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I went a week without a headphone jack, and it was not good

Apple’s iPhone 7 is the first device in its smartphone line to not have a headphone jack. Source: JP Mangalindan/Yahoo Finance

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the old saying goes.

That’s what a good number of people are saying in the wake of the iPhone 7 announcement. Indeed, if you paid attention, you know one of the biggest changes to Apple’s latest smartphone is the omission of a piece of decades-old technology: the trusty headphone jack.

My Yahoo Finance colleague David Pogue is actually a big proponent of the move, contending the headphone jack adds unnecessary bulk (see his piece, “Why the headphone jack must die”). But having spent a week now with an iPhone 7 review unit, I can say that a headphone jack-less existence will annoy millions of people used to that port.

Apple (AAPL) tries to make that painful journey a wee bit easier by tossing in an adapter that plugs into the iPhone 7’s lightning port and lets you use your old earbuds and headphones. The problem for me? I accidentally threw it out with the paper packaging the adapter came with. Based on sheer principle, I refuse to fork over $9 for something I’ve taken for granted on every single iPhone I’ve owned since 2007. But now I have 4 pairs of “old school” EarPods lying around that are semi-obsolete.

Living without the headphone jack in my phone also forced me change some of my habits.

I can’t listen to music through wired headphones and charge my phone at the same time, something I do a lot of — and I bet a good number of other people do — when I get to the office or just before I head home for a 5-mile run. I can’t use the pair of Lightning EarPods provided with the iPhone 7 to listen to music on or join my editors for Google Hangouts on my MacBook Pro, which still has that legacy headphone jack port.

So now I carry two pairs of EarPods around: one for my phone and one for my computer. It’s frustrating when I blindly rummage through my backpack at work only to come up with the wrong pair of earbuds.  

I also finally threw down $150 for a pair of wireless PowerBeats 2 headphones on sale for running. Do I regret the purchase? Not really. The PowerBeats 2 are incredibly comfortable to wear, and the audio quality is good enough for my day-to-day needs. It’s also liberating to run cord-free. But I wish the 5-hour battery life were twice that, and I seriously dread the day they go missing, simply because they’ve fallen off my shoulder.

The tradeoff for these issues? A larger battery and bigger taptic engine in the iPhone 7 where the headphone jack used to be. I don’t mind the former — I do in fact get an extra 1-2 hours of juice between charges because of it — but I couldn’t care less about the latter.

Ask me in a few months, and I may feel differently. The matte black iPhone 7 I’m using is an otherwise excellent smartphone, from the brisk performance to that gorgeous display. In fact, I’d go so far to say it’s darned near perfect.

But don’t ask me about the headphone jack. It’s still a sore subject.

JP Mangalindan is a senior correspondent for Yahoo Finance covering the intersection of tech and business. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.  

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