Apple’s newly unveiled iPhone 7 will not have a traditional headphone jack.
The company said its lightning connector could be used instead, which would make room for other components. It will also promote the use of wireless earphones, and has released a set of its own called AirPods.
Apple said it had taken “courage” to take the step.
However, the company risks annoying users who will now require an adapter for existing headphones.
Apple has unveiled its latest handsets at an event in San Francisco following a year in which its phone sales and market share shrank.
Other new features include:
the home button can now detect how firmly it is being pressed and provide vibration-based feedback, but no longer moves into the phones
the handsets can be submerged in water up to depths of 3.2ft for 30 minutes at a time
the larger iPhone 7 Plus model gets a two-lens camera on its rear, allowing it to offer a choice of focal lengths
The iPhone 7 launch comes a week after the European Commission demanded Apple pay up to €13 billion in back taxes to Ireland – a ruling the company is appealing.
The 3.5mm headphone jack was made popular by Sony’s Walkman cassette players, but was first introduced in one of the Japanese company’s transistor radios in 1964.
Apple has repeatedly been willing to ditch connectors and other ageing tech from its products earlier than its rivals.
The company suggests there are advantages to using its Airpods, which will cost $255.
It demonstrated that the wireless headphones could be paired with the phone much more quickly than is normally the case with Bluetooth sets.
The Airpods also contain infrared sensors to detect when they are in the user’s ears. This allows them to automatically stop music when they are taken out.
Motion sensors in the buds also allow Apple’s virtual assistant Siri to be activated for voice commands by double-tapping their sides.
Users will, however, have to get used to charging another device.
Apple said the Airpods would last “up to five hours” on a charge, and come with a recharging case that can extend their life up to 24 hours before a plug socket is required.
Another related change is the introduction of stereo speakers – one at each end of the handset – which Apple said meant the iPhone 7 could deliver twice the volume of the iPhone 6S.
The iPhone 7 Plus has both a wide angle and telephoto lens on its back, both using their own 12 megapixel sensor.
This allows the owner to quickly switch to a tighter shot without sacrificing image quality, and also allows the device to offer 10x zoom – double the amount than before – by digitally cropping the photo in the camera app.
A similar feature is already available on LG’s G5 phone.
Apple says it will also be able to combine data gathered by both camera sensors to simulate an effect associated with larger DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras.
It said software would be able to automatically pick people’s faces out from the background, keeping the humans in focus while blurring the rest of the shot in order to enhance the portraits.
The feature will not, however, be available at launch but will rather be provided as an update later on.
The iPhone 7 ranges from $955 to $1,275, depending on the amount of storage. The iPhone 7 Plus ranges from $1,150 to $1,470.
That marks an increase on 2015 prices, when the entry-level iPhone 6S was $862 and the iPhone 6S Plus was $990, albeit with less storage. US consumers have not seen such significant increases.
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are available to buy from September 16.
The first pictures of the flex cable components for Apple’s iPad Mini and iPhone 5 incorporating the new smaller dock connector have emerged.
The photograph, shared by French tech website nowhereelse.fr, shows two components, one of which is said to be similar to another apparently leaked picture of a part of the new iPhone.
As well as the new dock connector, the part also seems to take in the headphone jack and the home button connector for the hotly awaited devices.
In an attempt to ascertain the credibility of the leak, the French website asked Kyle Wiens of iFixit to give his opinion on the picture’s authenticity.
He confirmed that the component is indeed consistent with other Apple parts, but added that he wasn’t 100% certain that it was authentic.
The first pictures of the flex cable components for Apple's iPad Mini and iPhone 5 incorporating the new smaller dock connector have emerged
One detail that has troubled Apple observers is that the headphone jack on the pictured component is located directly next to the dock connector.
Macrumours.com points out that so far case leaks, design drawings and physical mockups of Apple’s forthcoming devices have all so far suggested the headphone jack on the iPad Mini will by found along the top edge – as it is on the full-size iPad.
There was a public outcry when it was revealed that the next iPhone would get a new docking port connector.
The newer, slimline port means that thousands of current Apple accessories will need a potentially clunky adapter to work with the “iPhone 5” – or their devices will become unusable.
Leaks from the website iMore, which has strong sources “close to Apple”, earlier this month suggested the entire next generation of iDevices, including the iPod Nano, iPod Touch, iPad Mini and future versions of the iPad, will use the new port.
The site believes a special connector will be released to connect older accessories – such as docking stations and speakers – to newer versions of the range.
Many fans were left angry after images allegedly showing the iPhone 5’s new design leaked out, showing the traditional 30-pin dock connector – used for charging, syncing files and pumping audio to hi-fis – had been re-designed into a smaller shape.
The new port looks similar to micro USB, the standard supported by all other phone manufacturers – however it is very unlikely that Apple will support this standard, despite moves by the EU to get all phone companies to rally around one type of cable.
Apple’s version has a triangle-shaped wedge at one end, which should stop users plugging in the cable the wrong way round.
Mac fans may spot a superficial similarity to a Firewire port, which is used to transfer raw video footage and larger files at high speed.
The new port means older accessories will be rendered redundant unless adapters are released to make them compatible again – which is likely to be an ungainly solution, and may be impossible for some docks.
The “nano-SIM” slot, containing the SIM card which connects a phone to the carrier network, has also been redesigned to be thinner, although this will be unlikely to cause much disruption to users as networks will provide replacements SIMs if necessary.
There are also rumors, reported on iMore, that the iPad 3, which was released in the Spring, will get a slight tweak this Autumn to brink the dock connector in-line with the rest of the range.