Microsoft patent would allow Apple to bring back iPhone headphone jack

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With the likes of Apple, Motorola and Google removing headphone ports from phones it’s only a matter of time before most other manufacturers follow, but a new patent has the potential to not only halt the tide, but see the headphone jack return to future iPhone and Pixel handsets.

The patent, which was filed by Microsoft (opens in new tab) back in August 2016 and spotted by MSPowerUser (opens in new tab), describes a headphone jack which would be partially external and which would lie flat when not in use, but expand outward when it is.

That means it would take up less internal space than a typical 3.5mm headphone port, and making the most of the space available or further slimming down phones are two of the reasons given for removing headphone ports from them, so this would largely address that.

Patent gallery

Clean lines

The fact that it would be flat when not in use also means it shouldn’t spoil the look of a handset, as the accompanying diagrams show it lying flush with the back of a phone, only bulging outwards when headphones are inserted.

Three possible designs shown by the patent include one with a flexible material that expands outwards in one direction when headphones are inserted, another which works similarly but using a hard, pleated material, and a third which would extend outwards both above and below the frame of a phone.

Of course, as ever with patents we wouldn’t count on seeing this in a device, especially as Microsoft has seemingly stopped making phones, but it shows that there are solutions available to the headphone problem, so it’s possible that we’ll see something similar from other manufacturers.

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.