Former software engineer Scotty Allen had a vision: an iPhone 7 with a 3.5mm headphone jack. While that might sound impossible, after four months of work and a trip to China, he achieved it.
Allen, who runs a tech website and YouTube channel called Strange Parts, chronicled that journey in a video posted this week. Although it was undoubtedly an arduous task, Allen claims to have created a fully functional — albeit heavily modified — iPhone 7 with a working headphone jack.
To be clear, Allen’s method is certainly not a simple, DIY modification that most users could do at home. In his own words, the endeavor was “really, really hard. But possible.” Aside from spending 120 days on the project, the former engineer had to travel to Shenzhen, China, acquire parts from cell phone repair markets, and assemble a variety of specialized tools. He went through seven custom circuit board designs and three disassembled iPhones before he finally created a working unit.
But in doing so, Allen discovered some interesting tidbits about Apple’s current-generation flagship. For one, Cupertino has said that the removal of the headphone jack was necessary to make room for upgraded internal components and the iPhone 7 increased water resistance. What Allen found, however, was that “there was inexplicably a lot of extra room” in the iPhone 7’s lower left-hand corner — where he eventually added the aftermarket headphone jack.
“I’m pretty proud of the final implementation,” Allen said, although he admitted that his method wasn’t exactly practical. Aside from the time, effort and complicated engineering know-how, he added that he had dropped a pretty sizable chunk of money on advanced disassembly tools and “lots, and lots, and lots” of spare parts. All in all, Allen said he spent “easily thousands of dollars” on the project.
The full video is fairly lengthy at 33 minutes, but it goes into incredible detail about the feat of engineering. Allen is no stranger to quirky tech projects, either. Earlier this year, Allen built a fully functional iPhone 6s by scavenging spare parts in China. But while Allen’s iPhone 6s worked perfectly, the final modified iPhone 7 had a caveat — a user still can’t listen to music while charging the device, reportedly because of the circuit design. To fix that issue, Allen contends, would require a “pretty serious engineering effort.”
Allen ended the new video by saying he hopes Apple will bring back the 3.5mm headphone jack in an upcoming device — a sentiment that many iPhone users share. Apple is expected to release three iPhone devices this coming Tuesday, Sept. 12, and it’s looking like none of them will have a headphone jack. One of those devices is the highly anticipated iPhone 8. While Allen said he’s not sure if his method will work on that device, he added that he’d like to “take a closer look” once they become available.