3.5mm jack – A vanishing act?

In a world of increasingly expensive flagship phones one would think that with this increase in price these phones would offer all of the bells and whistles that have ever adorned our beloved smartphones. Yet 1 key feature that is quickly disappearing from these flagships is the 3.5 mm headphone jack.

Even though Apple wasn’t necessarily the first one to ditch the headphone jack but they were definitely the first major manufacturer to get rid of the beloved 3.55 plug.

Google followed suit and got rid of the headphone jacks from the Pixel 2 phones.

 

 

Google Pixel 2 with 3.5 mm adapter

With Sony’s next flagship the Xperia XZ Premium 2 seemingly also ditching the headphone jack it seems like another manufacturer is ditching the 3.5 mm jack. Samsung may also jump-ship via the S9 and/or the subsequent phone afterward.

Let’s review and recap some of the pros and cons and see whether it makes sense to still keep ye old faithful 3.5 mm jack.

Pros:

  • Allows for making thinner and sexier phones.
  • No more tangled cables ( only applicable if using Bluetooth headphones and not USB-C type headphones – which you kinda could do even with the 3.5 mm jack )
  • Allows for more room in the phone to reconfigure and add more components ( like a slightly bigger battery etc.)
  • Makes it easier to make the phone waterproof.
  • Potentially better audio quality as the Digital to Analog switch ideally happens right at the headphones and hence minimal noise in signal conversion. Also since headphones can draw power via USB-C, headphones can have Amps built-in that draw power from your phone.

Cons:

  • Your current 3.5 mm headphones need an adapter to work via USB-C.
  • Cannot charge and use the USB-C headphones at the same time ( say goodbye to those late night hush-hush calls to your sweethearts while sitting next to the power plug) – Wireless charging will help alleviate this problem.
  • Keeping your wireless headphones charged for when you need them is a chore.
  • Thinner phones translate to more bendable/breakable action coming your way.
  • Poor audio quality and inconsistent connectivity for bluetooth headphones. Even though the quality of bluetooth headphones has improved a lot but there are still instances where connecting a new pair to a new phone is generally a pain. Also true audiophiles will never be content with the sound quality of wireless headphones.
  • Insufficient number of available accessories.

The charging is a big pain point for me, on both fronts – I forget to charge my bluetooth headphones and when I can want to use the headphones and charge my phone that is another pain in itself. It will surely take some time for the vanishing act to complete but it seems inevitable now.

meme showing you cannot break a non-existant headphone jack

I still feel that for a broader acceptance and alleviate the pain of the smartphones devoid of the 3.5 mm headphone jack the following two things need to happen :

  • Greater choice and availability of bluetooth and USB-C headphones and accessories at various price-points.
  • Wireless charging to become cross-compatible and ubiquitous for both phones and headphones.

Well it seems like there is no running away from a 3.5 mm headphone jack devoid smartphone world and you might as well embrace it. As is the case with any new major shift there will be a mix pain, angst and joy for various reasons. The oldie in me will certainly miss the it just works convenience and the easy availability of a cheap pair of earbuds at the store next door.

What do you think?

Did you already jump ship and are in Airpod-istan OR do you still cherish your gold-plated high end 3.5 mm jack headphones?

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