Ian Waldie Getty Images
By Don Reisinger
August 31, 2016

There’s mounting (circumstantial) evidence that Apple might be eliminating the headphone jack in its next iPhone.

An image was leaked online on Wednesday purporting to show the packaging insert for an iPhone 7 Plus. While it’s unknown if it’s the real thing (and it’s easy to spoof such inserts), it contained a reference to EarPods that would connect through an iPhone’s Lightning port.

Apple will bundle tethered earbuds that resemble those it currently sells—and not wireless earbuds—which will connect through the iPhone Lightning port with the next iPhone.

The insert, which was earlier discovered by Apple-tracking site 9to5Mac, says that there will be an adapter in the box that will allow those with corded earbuds, like EarPods, to connect them through the iPhone 7’s Lightning port, which is currently used in the iPhone 6s for accessory connections and battery charging.

The leaked image should, like any Apple secret, be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. The notoriously secretive Apple hasn’t even said it’s launching a new iPhone, let alone one that will be known as the iPhone 7. The company also hasn’t hinted at if it’s planning wireless earbuds for an iPhone that wouldn’t come with a headphone jack. It’s possible, therefore, that the image is a fake.

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However, there is some reason to lend some credibility to the image. For one, it uses Apple’s typical font and looks strikingly similar to the inserts Apple has used in the past. The image has also leaked from China, where Apple’s manufacturing partners are believed to be completing production on the company’s next iPhone.

Perhaps most importantly, the leak also follows several earlier (and credible) rumors surrounding Apple’s plans for the future.

Over the last several months, rumors have surfaced saying that Apple is planning to launch a new iPhone in September. Earlier this week, the company sent out invites to a special press event set for September 7, which is expected to play host to the unveiling of its next iPhone, believed to be known as the iPhone 7.

iPhone 7 Rumor Roundup: Release Date, Features, and More

In the weeks leading up to the invites, a slew of rumors have said that Apple is eliminating the headphone jack in its next iPhone in favor of dual speakers on the bottom of the handset. The company was also working on wireless earbuds, reports and analysts have said, which would connect to the new smartphone via Bluetooth wireless.

One of the big question marks, however, is if Apple would include an accessory with each iPhone that would allow those who have tethered headphones to connect to the smartphone via the device’s Lightning port. Some reports said Apple would include the accessory with the device while others suggested it would sell it separately. The packaging insert suggests Apple would do the former rather than the latter.

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Ultimately, it’s impossible to say for sure what Apple has planned, and the company isn’t sharing any details on another iPhone until Sept. 7. So until then, expect similar leaks to continue until we see the real deal.

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