Apple exec explains why "cumbersome" SD card slot removed from new MacBooks but 3.5mm jack remains

By midian182 · 33 replies
Nov 3, 2016
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  1. Just why does Apple love removing long-used ports from its products? It seems the outcry that followed the disappearance of the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 had no effect on the Cupertino company; it dropped most of the standard ports from the new MacBook Pro, including the SD card slot, yet kept the laptop's 3.5mm jack.

    Speaking during an interview with The Independent, Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, explained the thinking behind axing the SD slot. He called the decision a “bold move” - similar to how removing the latest iPhone’s headphone jack took “courage.”

    It seems the two main reasons behind the slot’s removal were because it is “cumbersome” and there are an increasing number of cameras that use wireless transfer technology.

    Because of a couple of things. One, it’s a bit of a cumbersome slot. You’ve got this thing sticking halfway out. Then there are very fine and fast USB card readers, and then you can use CompactFlash as well as SD. So we could never really resolve this – we picked SD because more consumer cameras have SD but you can only pick one. So, that was a bit of a trade-off. And then more and more cameras are starting to build wireless transfer into the camera. That’s proving very useful. So we think there’s a path forward where you can use a physical adapter if you want, or do wireless transfer.

    While Schiller has a point about more cameras using wireless, there are still plenty of models, even expensive DSLRs, that don’t have the feature. And was the SD card really such a pain when sticking slightly out of the MacBook's slot? Surely using a full USB-C SD adapter, as he suggests, would be a lot more cumbersome.

    When asked why the 3.5mm jack was removed from the iPhone 7 but remains on the MacBook Pro, Schiller said that the jack is used for more than just headphones on the laptop. Apple kept it because “these are pro machines,” and many users “have setups with studio monitors, amps, and other pro audio gear that do not have wireless solutions and need the 3.5mm jack.” Suggesting that if people used the MacBook Pro's jack for just headphones, then it would have likely been dropped. But it could still be removed in future models, if a Apple survey from September is anything to go by.

    The removal of so many standard ports, and the fact that not everyone is impressed by the new Touch Bar, has led to a fair amount of criticism being directed at the new MacBooks – something that has surprised Schiller. He did add, though, that he’s never “seen a great new Apple product that didn’t have its share of early criticism and debate — and that’s cool.”

    Despite the negative reception from some quarters, Apple’s online store is apparently taking more orders for the new MacBooks than “any pro notebook before.”

    Permalink to story.

  2. GreenArrow

    GreenArrow TS Enthusiast Posts: 52   +34

    Caring a dongle everywhere is also "cumbersome".
    liammac002, Reehahs, Jamlad and 3 others like this.
  3. MoeJoe

    MoeJoe TS Guru Posts: 710   +379

    Really stupid.

    Doesn't matter much though, as I ditched the Apple ecosystem years ago.
    wontolla likes this.
  4. you less and charging you more...
    Reehahs, Greg S and TadMSTR like this.
  5. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 857   +873

    Remember, SD card slots are so cumbersome, but multitudes of dongles are A-OK!

    Gotta give them credit, it takes real courage to jerk around a consumer bast the way apple does.
    liammac002, Reehahs, Arris and 4 others like this.
  6. Spence1115

    Spence1115 TS Enthusiast Posts: 49   +39

    I'm pretty sure the real reason was to kill off those SD card adapters that allowed you to put a micro SD card in there and have it sit flush in the laptop. Grab an adaptor and a 128GB micro SD card, you've got a big boost to your storage for not very much, rather than paying Apple an extortionate fee for a larger SSD.
    liammac002, Reehahs, wontolla and 4 others like this.
  7. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,096   +1,271

    "Just why does Apple love removing long-used ports from its products?"

    We should all know the answer to this because it is a very Apple thing to do. Remove the standard ports and you lock down the ecosystem. It's obvious with the move they have been making that they not only want control of just their own hardware and software but also all of the peripherals that you connect to them. Why let customers use SD cards when they could buy a more expensive model with more space? For the new iPhone, why let customers use regular headphones when you can push the sales of your own proprietary lightning connector and headphones? Those overpriced 3.5mm adapter sales aren't going to hurt either.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2016
    Skidmarksdeluxe likes this.
  8. Wagan8r

    Wagan8r TS Evangelist Posts: 603   +64

    Reehahs and Evernessince like this.
  9. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,681   +1,080

    Man, caring this new MacBook Pro is cumbersome. Better toss it!
  10. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 747   +357

    A 3.5mm jack is not a "pro" audio solution. It can either be an unbalanced stereo signal, or a (terrible) balanced mono signal.

    I don't know of a single audio engineer, musician, or DJ that goes "gee, let me just use the 3.5mm jack and onboard soundcard of this laptop". They all have USB soundcards - which are now also useless until the available models get upgraded, because USB-C.

    As for SD cards, photographer still love using the built-in readers because it means they don't need to carry the USB cable for their camera with them, or worry about the camera having enough charge. If I'm going to load my photos wirelessly, I'm just going to do it through Lightroom on my phone and completely cut out the heavy laptop.

    Congratulations Apple. You're logic makes no sense.
    veLa, Greg S and TadMSTR like this.
  11. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    I don't see why this is such a big issue. It's not as though non Apple users give a rats a$$ anyway. It should only be a concern for those who use these things.
  12. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,663   +1,949

    Apple confuses "inventive" with "spontaneous", as decisions appear made on the toss of a coin.
    veLa likes this.
  13. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,971   +2,526

    Fixed! (y)
    VitalyT likes this.
  14. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,663   +1,949

    I think that gradation better describes Apple's end users, while my version is for Apple itself ;)
  15. seefizzle

    seefizzle TS Evangelist Posts: 336   +199

    Apple knows what's best for you.
    hay fizzy likes this.
  16. tehxion

    tehxion TS Rookie Posts: 19   +9

    I do understand where they are coming from here. When I was pre configuring my Surface Book I factored in the SD slot as additional storage when choosing what capacity SSD I needed. My thinking was that I would use a large SD card as additional storage for files I want to carry but don't need the speed of the SSD for (I.e. documents).

    When the Surface arrived I put in an SD card I had laying around and immediately noticed that it stuck out quite a way. It would snag on my bag when putting the Surface away and I almost broke the card when picking up the surface and tilting it sideways. The SD slot should be designed in such a way that the card is completely contained within the slot, but its not, you need leverage on the card to remove it.

    There are some after-market solutions, specifically designed adapters that take a Micro SD card and fit within the SD slot. The adapters are specific to the PC so that they fit flush with the chassis. I'm now using one of these, but Micro SD does not have the capacity as SD.
  17. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,971   +2,526

    Oh poor baby, what an insufferable and heinous ordeal that mean old card put you through. "The horror, the horror" (*). I'm surprised it didn't put you into therapy.
    The reason SD sticks out, is so you can put your fingers around it and pull it out.

    I certainly hope they get telekinesis figured out for humans ASAP. That way, the card can pushed in until it aligns with the computer's surface, and you can think it back out....., er quietly, sil vous plait.

    (*) That's from the famous movie, Cardpocalypse Now"....:p:oops:
    Reehahs likes this.
  18. Greg S

    Greg S TechSpot Staff Posts: 1,067   +427

    128gb micro SD cards are around $40, 200gb is available for around $70. How is that not big enough compared to regular SD? Regular SD really only go up to 512gb before they become somewhat impractical for average people. It's not hard to carry around a few dozen microSD cards.
  19. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,971   +2,526

    It's not actually that hard to carry around a few dozen SD cards. Although granted, it does get to be a b****** when you try and store them individually in D-SLR's.

    I'm a millennial though. Everything you have to do physically is too hard. I'm going to go work on my "Kickstarter" project now. I want to invent toilet paper that connects to the internet. That way, I can take my "Surface" into the bathroom with me, so I can tell "Cortana" how many sheets I'll be needing wound off the roll for me....(y) <(It's tough thimkin' fer yerself, and I don't want to use my finger(n)).

    BTW: It's (IMHO), a lot easier to write something on an SD card to indicate what's on on it, than it is with micro-SD. (At least for my clumsy pre-millennial fingers).
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2016
    Reehahs likes this.
  20. polord

    polord TS Rookie Posts: 22

    "Despite the negative reception from some quarters, Apple’s online store is apparently taking more orders for the new MacBooks than “any pro notebook before.”

  21. polord

    polord TS Rookie Posts: 22

  22. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    True enough that many pro cameras often have dual slots so the photographer uses both CF and SD in some cases, but really "Camera's come with wireless nowadays so the slot isn't needed". Wireless gives convenience to transfer a few images to quickly upload to social media, not transfer a weekend's worth of photos off a 32gb card... Even transferring 16GB over wireless takes forever. Considering that many photographers and videographers swear by Apple (for no particularly good reason I might add) I really think they might be shooting themselves in the foot with this move.
  23. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    Obviously been a good iLambing year.
  24. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,971   +2,526

    Well, compact flash is even more cumbersome than SD, by a long shot. As far a raw superstition goes, I wouldn't want to trust a single day's work to micro-SD

    At one point in prehistoric, or at least pre-SATA times, Apple had better color management. Since Photoshop became widely available, (IMHO), and the demise of Windows ME, I seriously doubt that is still the case.

    Since the belief, "if it's not at least Nikon or a Canon, it's not a real camera", snobbery is pretty much a given. It's likely the snob appeal of Apple nowadays, leads to continued allegiance, not any tangible, "superiority".

    The truth about this generation is, it lives to be offended, and nothing can be made too easy, or too convenient for it. "I don't like SD because it sticks out a tiny bit from the computer" Kee-Ryst, gimme a ******** break. Whimper on like you matter.

    Obviously diddling the sheep is a crime in most states. However, Apple's herd never seems to bleat in protest...
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2016
    Arris likes this.
  25. Wendy Oltman

    Wendy Oltman TS Booster Posts: 129   +16

    If they are professionals, why aren't they using later generation cameras with the wireless data transfer? If I were a REAL professional, I'd be keeping up to date with technology. It's how you remain relevant in your chosen industry. :)

    I hate using MicroSD cards, they get lost too easily, I hate trying to keep track since there isn't much room to write down what's on the SD card. To me, they were a pain in the *** from Day 1. I used to use them on one of my old cameras, but it was just a pain in the *** and I simply gave up using them. I have learned to do wireless data transfers, utilized the cloud, etc. To me, it's not a big loss. I know that some people might get bent out of shape, but people need to adopt the new way of doing things, or they'll become antiquated. That's the thing with Technology, it moves faster than we do sometimes.

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