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Apple put a barometric vent in the space where the iPhone 7 headphone jack would have been

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iFixit

iFixit is the hero this industry needs, and it has once again done a beautiful job of ripping apart a brand-new iPhone and showing us what's inside. Even better, iFixit does X-rays, too! Do you want to see inside that Taptic Engine black box? Now you can:

iFixit

Thank you, iFixit! Oh, and what's that weird ghostly circle on the lower right third? It'€™s the non-mechanical home button, of course.

A couple other things of note:

  1. There are only a few tweaks that make the iPhone 7 waterproof. One of them appears to be the glue that holds the phone together, meaning it might be hard to waterproof it again if you get anything repaired or replaced in your phone.
  2. Despite the lack of any way to output analog audio other than the (apparently great) built-in stereo speakers, the iPhone still has three CirrusLogic audio chips.
  3. Okay fine let's talk about the headphone jack.

So, as you may have noticed, the iPhone 7 has speaker grilles on each side of the Lightning plug, but there's still only a loudspeaker on the right side. What'€™s on the left, where the headphone jack used to be? Well, that's also where the microphone is traditionally, and it's still there despite the refreshed it-kind-of-looks-like-a-speaker-now exterior experience.

As pictured above, you can see a piece of plastic sits behind the ingress protection (waterproofing!), right where the headphone jack would have been. And (update!) according to Apple it's a "barometric vent." Apparently adding all the waterproofing to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus meant that it was more of a sealed box, and so to be able to have an accurate and working barometer, Apple used that space. The barometer is the thing that allows a phone to measure altitude, and Apple points out that on the iPhone 7 it can measure even minor changes like climbing a flight of stairs.

Apple has also been pretty consistent in arguing that the removal of the headphone jack isn't just about the precise physical space that's right there on the bottom-left of the phone. As BuzzFeed reported, Apple says it's more about the entire thing — the Taptic engine, the larger battery, easier waterproofing, the top speaker, the antennas, etc.

In any case: this bit of plastic is a barometric vent. This particular mystery is over, but the drama about the headphone jack probably isn't.

Update: This article was updated to reflect that the "hunk of plastic" in question is the barometric vent.

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus review