It took Apple “courage” to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus last year. But it turns out, if you can summon some of that courage, add some time, patience and cash, you can bring that headphone jack back to the current generation iPhone. Or so was the case with YouTuber Scotty Allen of Strange Parts channel.
Allen went to Shenzhen, China, the world’s manufacturing capital, to explore whether he could forcefully drill a hole to his iPhone 7 Plus and add a headphone jack. It wasn’t the easiest of things, but the outcome was worth all the cash and time he spent on it – over $1,000 and 17 weeks.
So, here’s what Allen did. He cracked open the iPhone – using appropriate third-party equipment – and investigated what Apple has put in the spot where the headphone jack component used to sit. He cited iFixit, which has a statement from Apple revealing the pointless looking plastic component is termed a barometric vent, which as the publication explains is a “baffle to equalize the internal and atmospheric pressures in order to have an accurate altimeter.”
Now that the plastic is gone, Allen purchased a headphone jack component – in Shenzhen, these things are readily available – and wondered if it would fit. It didn’t. After making some cosmetic changes to the headphone jack, Allen realised that the Taptic Engine – which works in conjunction with the fingerprint scanner – was coming in the way. And so was the battery, actually. He made a few minor adjustments, and while that worked out just fine, two new problems emerged.
First, there was a noticeable bulge when Allen tried to put together the iPhone again. Second, another connector started to come in the way. Even as the YouTuber, who has over 230,999 followers, made makeshift arrangements to get the two things, he feared that the headphone jack was still colliding with it a little and could shut some connectors off.
Allen was back to the basics. He went to the local Apple retail store and bought a couple of headphone jack to Lightning connectors. He then went to the local market to buy some wires, a microscope. The plan was to use Apple’s official connector and check whether it could be reverse engineered and if the innards could be placed within the body. And also, he would use the inlet of the Lightning connector – that we use to charge the device – for this purpose. So even if the plan works, Allen would have to figure out how to charge the phone.
What followed was, in simplest terms, extreme engineering. Scotty delicately soldered the wires to the PCB (the motherboard) using the wires. It worked. And thus began the journey of finding out how to charge this iPhone now.
Allen then found out that there are circuits that can enable him to switch between when he wants to use the Lightning connector for audio and when he wants to use it to charge the phone. The problem? He will have to find the chip and install it there himself. Spoiler alert: He manages to make it work.
Months since visiting Shenzhen, finding a chipset that could fit in within the body, spending a ton of cash buying components, Allen manages to put the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 Plus – and everything works fine. But he doesn’t recommend others to try it, while pleading with Apple to bring back the 3.5mm headphone jack in the iPhone 8. Watch the video above to know why.