Game-changing earbuds could make up for the iPhone 7's biggest flaw

iPhone 6S

It's looking more and more likely that the iPhone 7 won't have a 3.5mm headphone port at this point and it's a decision that's already proving controversial, but Apple may have a solution to help ease the pain.

According to Forbes, a source "with knowledge of the project" claims that Apple is working on a custom low-energy Bluetooth radio chip for use in wireless earbuds.

That could solve one of the biggest problems with Bluetooth headphones, namely their low battery life, and make them a more appealing option for the headphone port-free iPhone 7, especially if they're bundled in the box.

The source doesn't claim that they will be arriving with the next iPhone, in fact apparently Apple has been working on them for a few years, following the 2013 acquisition of Passif Semiconductor, a company which specializes in "wireless transceivers with low power consumption and a small footprint."

Only a matter of time

Supposedly Apple planned to release the new headphones last year, but delayed them due to Bluetooth performance issues.

The question now is whether a year was long enough to fix those problems, but the timing would certainly make sense, as Apple will surely want to have a compelling alternative to 3.5mm headphones.

It still won't help those who want to connect their existing wired sets and the inevitable Lightning port adapter sounds like an inelegant solution, but if Apple can fix the battery life problems of Bluetooth sets it could signal a move away from wired headphones altogether.

We'll know what Apple's got cooking soon, with the iPhone 7 likely to be announced in early September, but with the potential for a whole shift in the headphone landscape you might want to hold off on buying an expensive pair of wired ones.

James Rogerson

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, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.