Has Apple Made an Unbreakable Headphone Connector?

iPod Shuffle 2005As a maker of premium computer products, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is known for making high-quality devices that hold up over years of regular usage. Now it appears that the Cupertino-based company has developed another way to increase the durability of its devices.

Apple has developed a flexible headphone connector that resists breakage according to a recently published patent uncovered by Apple Insider. In the patent description, Apple notes that typical audio connectors have “multiple conductive regions that extend along the length of the connectors in distinct portions of the plug such as the tip, sleeve and one or more middle portions between the tip and sleeve.” These tip, ring and sleeve connectors, or TRS, are usually composed of an inflexible insulating material that electrically isolates each portion of the headphone connector.

However, Apple notes that this insulating material is “prone to breaking when inserted or extracted with a force that intersects its insertion axis.” Although headphone connectors come in a variety of sizes, Apple notes that the increasingly smaller sizes of new electronic devices also increases the tendency of these connectors to break.

In the patent, Apple proposes replacing this material with a new “flexible material that allows the connector to bend with respect to an insertion axis and prevent the connector from breaking when inserted or extracted improperly.” This elastic material is also designed to return to its original shape “without requiring a change of temperature.”

Besides making the headphones inoperable, headphone connector breakage can also damage the audio device that the headphones were connected to. This can result in expensive electronic equipment repairs for the consumer.

Since Apple products are typically covered by standard manufacturer warranties or extended AppleCare warranties, this new headphone connector technology could potentially save Apple money that it would normally spend repairing customer’s products, as well as saving customers the headache of getting their devices replaced or fixed.  Here’s how Apple closed out the trading week.


Follow Nathanael on Twitter (@ArnoldEtan_WSCS)