The decision to axe the iPhone’s built-in headphone port and simply put an adapter in the box has provoked reactions ranging from amusement to near panic. Why did they do it? Was it worth it? Will other manufacturers copy it? Today we’re going to ignore all of these questions. Instead we’re asking, How did they do it? And since we like taking things apart, we’ll answer with some exploratory surgery and some X-rays.
All Your Digitals Are Belong To Us
Apple feels the 3.5 mm audio jack is an antique whose time has passed. But we’re not all prepared to shell out for new headphones just yet, so to ease the transition Apple gave iPhone 7 owners a deal worthy of Oprah— you get a headphone adapter! And you get a headphone adapter! Everyone gets a headphone adapter!
Separately, this little adapter retails for $9.00—making it pretty much the cheapest thing in the Apple store, where you can drop $35 for a simple screen protector. So, you’d probably think a $9 dongle doesn’t have much going on.
Imagine our surprise, then, when our pals over at Creative Electron gave Apple’s new adapter the X-ray treatment:
Thanks to Creative Electron for this X-ray image of Apple’s audio adapter.
There’s actually a lot going on in there. As expected, one end is a simple female 3.5 mm headphone jack, and the other end is a male Lightning connector. But what’s all that silicon around the Lightning connector end? Most of the retail space near the connector is taken up by a single mystery IC.
Image courtesy of the amazing folks at Creative Electron .
We needed a closer look. Thankfully, long-time iFixit contributor and gadgeteer extraordinaire oldturkey03 sliced his adapter open so we could all get a peek inside. He uncovered that mystery IC by the Lightning connector, marked 338S00140 A0SM1624 TW—which doesn’t tell us much, other than it’s an Apple part number.