Couldn’t Apple easily do a generation of lightning headphones and start putting lightning adapters…
Patrick Breitenbach

Yes they could.

The DA converter which currently sends analog signals to the headphone 3.5mm jack would have to send them to some pins of the lightning connector.

Another option would be to get digital signals from the lightning connector and have a DA converter into the headphones, but it’s a convoluted solution that would introduce many problems.

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