Apple now has a patent for wireless Lightning headphones

Is the iPhone losing the headphone jack?

One of the big unanswered questions we have about the iPhone 7 is whether or not it's going to ditch the 3.5mm audio jack in an attempt to make the device thinner than ever.

Well, even if it's not on the cards for this September, it looks like wireless and/or Lightning port headphones are the way of the future in the long term: one of Apple's newest patents is for just such a system.

Patents don't always result in real products at the end of the line but this is clearly the way that Apple's engineers are thinking. If you're desperate to keep using your existing headphones then you might soon need an adapter.

Sound control

Critics would say it's a cruel move by Apple forcing users to upgrade their audio hardware; Apple would say has to move with the times and keep innovating - and the old 3.5mm connector has had a good innings.

The headphones proposed in the patent also include an internal battery, processor and memory, so it looks like we might soon be seeing some new premium audio hardware from the Cupertino company (don't forget Apple bought Beats almost two years ago).

The proposed new Lightning-enabled earbuds could also be charged at the same time as piping through your tunes, another advantage of the new tech. We'll have to wait and see if it's ready in time for the 2016 iPhone.

Find out exactly what we think of the iPhone SE:

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.