Originally Posted by Koolpep
My prediction: some new iPhones will have no 3.5mm headphone jack anymore. BUT you can either just get the lightning to 3.5mm adapter (or adapter cable) or other things....
I think you are spot on. The current Lightning-to-30-pin adapter has a DAC, and it is a line out which means no volume change. All Apple has to do is make volume change work on this DAC, and it is now a "headphone out." Of course, it won't work well with hard-to-drive headphones, but that is what the Lightning program is about. This will mean a thinner iPhone, which is what the design change is really about.
I think this means good sound out of an Apple headphone jack is unlikely moving forward, but on the bright side, this means head-fi is the future: DAC/amps that use smartphones as transports is something we already know well. Perhaps it will grow the market and lead to more choice.
A bad side though: It will mean another expensive Apple dongle that can get lost.
A headphone out would also differentiate an iPod Touch from an iPhone, if this path turns out to be true, because I can't see an iPod Touch going without a headphone jack. (And I do think they will keep the Touch as an entry-level device so that kids can get into the Apple ecosystem without a data plan.) For all this to work, Apple will have to convince customers that 3.5mm jacks are "bad quality", which is probably where the marketing will start to ruffle feathers on this board...
EDIT: It already ruffled the feathers of a Forbes writer. He's given a more-complete description of the rollout and lock-in effects. Starting with Beats makes sense as it dominates the high-end headphone market, so Apple can use that market dominance to convert headphone users to Lightning.
Edited by jazzman7 - 6/5/14 at 10:16am