Apple patent suggests move away from 3.5mm headphone jack, towards Bluetooth or Lightning connector, for next-gen iPhone

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Date: Wednesday, January 13th, 2016, 08:59
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News, Patents


As frightening as the idea of an iPhone without the headphone jack may be, a recently published Apple patent suggests that the idea may be fairly likely.

A new patent awarded to Apple on Monday suggests that Apple may convert from the classic 3.5mm headphone jack to Lightning and Bluetooth. The patent seemingly describes a method of getting higher-quality and higher-volume audio from speakers built into slimmer devices.

From the patent itself:

Given the area constraints imposed on many portable electronic devices, it is increasingly difficult to provide high-quality audio sound output and pickup without hindering the ability to make portable electronic devices smaller and thinner. Consequently, there is a need for improved approaches to provide high-quality audio sound output and/or pickup from portable electronic devices as they get smaller and thinner.

Apple’s phrasing describes a method wherein rather than just using the volume of air you can push through the speakers themselves, Apple appears to be proposing to allow more of the internal space of the device to act as an audio chamber:

The invention pertains to a portable electronic device that provides compact configurations for audio elements. The audio elements can be drivers (e.g., speakers) or receivers (e.g., microphones). In one embodiment, an audio element can be mounted on or coupled to an intermediate structure (e.g., a flexible electrical substrate) having an opening therein to allow audio sound to pass there through. In another embodiment, an audio chamber can be formed to assist in directing audio sound between an opening an outer housing and a flexible electronic substrate to which the audio element is mounted or coupled thereto.

This idea, if carried through, could potentially turn assorted components of the iPhone into parts of the speaker. This would allow a greater volume of air to be pushed, increasing the sound volume achievable from internal speakers, as well as potentially increasing the quality of the audio. The patent describes using the same technique to improve the microphone(s).

It’s all academic until the next generation of iPhone arrives, but there are still some pretty cool ideas within the patent.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Via 9to5Mac and United States Patent and Trademark Office

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