Nearly a year after the iPhone 7 got announced without a headphone jack, a former software engineer named Scotty Allen has successfully managed to add the port back to the handset. You might remember him as the guy who built a working iPhone 6S from spare parts he scrounged up in Shenzhen, China.
Allen’s now back with a new video which takes place in Shenzhen again. It took him 4 months to drill a headphone jack and still have the Lightning connector work, a complicated process which involved thousands of dollars, 3 brand new iPhone 7 units, a handful of new screens and backs, a ton of spare parts, 7 custom factory-made circuit boards, and several Lightning to 3.5mm adapters.
If you’re wondering how exactly Allen managed to find space to even insert the jack, Apple itself allowed for this by leaving some extra room on the lower left side. As you might recall, iFixit had discovered that the speaker grille on the bottom left of the iPhone 7 was only there for aesthetic purposes, hiding a barometric vent and making way for the Taptic engine and battery.
The components proved to be challenging to move around for Allen, but he eventually managed to do so. But this presented fresh challenges, prompting him to go to an Apple Store and buy several Lightning to 3.5mm adapters which he proceeded to take apart and reverse engineer inside the iPhone 7.
He also hand soldered a flexible PCB which could switch between the headphone jack and Lightning port when either cable was plugged in. This unfortunately means that his iPhone 7 can’t charge up and play music at the same time.
Still, Allen has uploaded the kicad files and gerbers as on open source design on Github, so anyone can improve upon his idea if they want to take a knock at it. He thinks the basic implementation can be adapted for a wide variety of Lightning-based adapters inside an iPhone, so the sky’s the limit.