After Apple killed it in 2016, the 3.5mm audio jack is still alive and well

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
After Apple killed it in 2016, the 3.5mm audio jack is still alive and well
Back in 2016, Apple claimed it took “courage” to kill the headphone jack. In a way, the Cupertino-based moneymaker is obviously right, as voluntary exposure to the ensuing public ridicule can be called anything but cowardly.

Jokes at the expense of (fake) Genius Bar employees trying to defend the use of a dongle or even a double dongle still haven’t gotten old, at least in Samsung’s view, but the unexpected trend inspired by the iPhone 7 continues to cause headaches for many folks interested in high-end iOS and Android devices.

How it all began

Let’s not kid ourselves, Apple’s jack-ditching move was a largely cynical one. Instead of pursuing some noble goal by replacing an obsolete standard with a cutting-edge new technology, the aim was to push a clear agenda. With (traditional) wired headphones out of the equation, the company could aggressively promote its own cable-free AirPods, as well as cheaper Lightning-connected EarPods that you can be certain are generating hefty profit margins of their own.

Sure, you can use that Lightning to 3.5 mm adapter, aka dongle, and hang on to your favorite pair of “old-fashioned” headphones, but that’s just a dumb workaround for a non-problem. Besides, it doesn’t solve the age-old “listening to music while charging your phone” issue, at least not until wireless charging technology actually becomes practical and usable.

Why does the jack have to die?

Not all old things are automatically bad. Sure, the standard phone connector used for analog audio signals was born in the 19th century (that’s right, the 1800s), undergoing minimal changes over time as far as the underlying technology is concerned.

Basically, we’re talking about a 140-year-old or so feature, although originally, the jack plug measured 6.35 mm, moving to a miniature 3.5 mm size in the 1950s before ending up in our pockets. But who cares about all that if it just works?
Of course, you can find terrible 3.5 mm headphones on the market right now, but the same goes for some of their “modern” USB Type-C counterparts. Not to mention how few truly decent, truly affordable options from the latter category are widely available in 2018. Or how ridiculously easy it is to misplace one’s AirPods. Bottom line, if nothing else, 3.5 mm headphones must live on for the sake of diversity, healthy competition, and choice.

Also, if you truly believe getting rid of jacks makes phones thinner or safer against water damage, you may want to brush up on your history. Sony’s been designing water-resistant handsets for the better part of a decade, yet the Xperia XZ2 is a whopping 11 mm thick. Motorola also pulled off the “impossible” last year by releasing the Moto Z2 Play with a 3.5 mm jack and 6 mm overall profile, so don’t trust every excuse companies are trying to use these days to defend their greed and/or laziness.

Apple vs the rest of the world

No, Apple is not the only company selling phones without jacks. But it’s the only important company that sells exclusively no-jack mobile devices (and reportedly iPads soon enough). Well, there’s also Google, which followed its arch-rival’s suit with 2017’s Pixel 2 and 2 XL, looking to go down that road again this year. Of course, this is a search giant that’s not afraid to redesign its products from scratch every year, as well as abruptly discontinue projects like the Nexus lineup, so don’t be surprised if 2019’s Pixel 4 brings back the “outdated” audio connector.

Companies like Samsung, LG, and OnePlus continue to lead the jack’s defender pack, with product portfolios composed entirely of 3.5 mm port-featuring models. And then you have a drove of Android smartphone manufacturers that seem more or less… undecided.

A short list of high-profile recent phones that are firmly in Apple’s camp includes the likes of the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro, Honor Note 10, HTC U12+, Sony Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Premium, Moto Z3 Play, Nokia 8 Sirocco, Xiaomi Mi A2, and Oppo Find X.

At the other end of the spectrum, handsets like the non-Pro Huawei Mate 10, Honor 10, Honor View 10, Honor 7X, HTC Desire 12 and 12+, Sony Xperia XA2 and XA2 Plus, Moto X4, G6, and G6 Plus, Nokia 7 Plus, 5.1, 3.1, and 2.1, Xiaomi Mi Max 3, BlackBerry KEY2, and Vivo Nex join OnePlus, Samsung, and LG devices in supporting the headphone jack.

There will always be choice

Yes, “always” is a strong word, and those who remember Nokia or BlackBerry’s past glory may have learned not to casually throw it around when discussing mobile industry trends and changes.

But if you look carefully at the two lists above, you’ll notice almost all of the phones available today without a headphone jack are expensive high-end models. I’m not saying this will become a feature reserved solely for budget-friendly low-enders and mid-rangers anytime soon, but as long as Android shall live (under this name or a different one), there’s no way good old jack will be dead and buried. 

After all, if there’s still a market for physical keyboard-sporting phones, there’s always going to be a market for classic headphone-supporting devices.



1. Rigmaster

Posts: 234; Member since: Jan 22, 2018

If device makers included wireless buds, few would even care if the headphone jack went away.

2. andrewc31394

Posts: 298; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

there are ALOT of people out there who don't want to worry about another device to charge.

4. monkeyb

Posts: 413; Member since: Jan 17, 2018

Amen to that. I am an iPhone user who is one of the lot :(

8. bucknassty

Posts: 1353; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

what if they do the device to device wireless charging????

10. middlehead

Posts: 458; Member since: May 12, 2014

Still means you have to stop using the buds/phones long enough to charge them.

13. bucknassty

Posts: 1353; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

true... its almost like the issue with the front facing camera... everyone wants to rid phones of it, but no one has a truely non-negative effect way of doing it.

30. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

But there is a way. You can take a picture of yourself, with the rear camera very easily if you have a Samsung. It turns on the LED when you are in line of sight. It actually works pretty decent. And the photos are better because of course the rear cam is more powerful.

31. bucknassty

Posts: 1353; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

what what about video chat? or other apps that use the front camera, like snapchat

12. danny_a2005

Posts: 365; Member since: Oct 06, 2011

At the beginning i was rejecting this change, but as soon as I tried the dongle I never missed the headphone jack, it has better audio quality, you can try this for example in a Samsung s8, the quality coming from the USB type C with dongle is far better than the one coming from the headphone Jack, I don't miss it at all. I have like 4 dongles for different earphones I own so I don't really mind if the jack disappears.

19. izim1

Posts: 1600; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

Yes... the quality improves when you add a completely unnecessary connection that does nothing but transfer, to the mix... makes perfect sense... That was sarcasm, by the way.

26. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

Depends on brand of phone. facts shows the Lightning port adapter, actually lowers sound quality even more. USB Type C has zero lose in quality due to higher bandwidth because the port is USB 3.1 I don't want a dongle, but a direct connect is OK and at least you can still charge your Samsung phone by other means if the port is in use.

32. PopeFrancis

Posts: 110; Member since: Aug 05, 2014

You tried the dongle and you liked it.

25. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

For what phones cost now, all of them should be including premium wired options in the box like Samsung does. paying $1000 for a phone that comes with $5.00 trash buds is a shame. Samsung will likely include the 2017 icon X with the Note 9, considering that even though they beefed up the battery life to nearly 6 hours, they still cost way to much IMO. A $900+ phone should include wireless high quality earbuds or wireless headphones. The iPhone X should have been boxed with the beats X. In fact apple should replace all their headphones with beats because at least they sound way better than Apple's Chinese made garbage.

42. mootu

Posts: 1530; Member since: Mar 16, 2017

"The iPhone X should have been boxed with the beats X. In fact apple should replace all their headphones with beats because at least they sound way better than Apple's Chinese made garbage." You do know that Beats are made in China? They only cost $14 to make and are consistantly rated bottom in audio comparisons. Nothing but pure marketing.

44. epdm2be

Posts: 824; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

And here we go again. The audio-jack is not ONLY used for headphones! Car stereos, hifi sets, external speakers etc... But as usual YOU only uses headphones and thus you assume that everubody is like you. IMO it should be called "audio-jack" instead of headphone-jack!

3. monkeyb

Posts: 413; Member since: Jan 17, 2018

Very well written. I have been using the adapter which apple provides to use my bose ear-phones. But there were many times I needed to uses the charger and earphones at the same time. Im personally hating it. I have a Bluetooth headset but it is very problematic when I want to move from my Laptop to iPhone or back. And I dont want to but apples airpods which are worth a lot as they fall off my ear. I am currently using a belkin dongle that has both 3.5 mm and lightning input. It solved my problem but its not at all convenient. I like Apple but I want the earphone jack back. And yes, no one wants another device to charge daily.

5. Chrusti

Posts: 102; Member since: Jul 25, 2015

Let’s Pray To Allah That The Samsung S10 will come with a Headphone Jack!

9. toosmoove

Posts: 914; Member since: Sep 28, 2017

It will.

27. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

Actually you should pray to Sang-je, that is the god of the Koreans belief. Koreans aren't Muslim :-)

37. AronWunarso

Posts: 244; Member since: Feb 21, 2016

Well, Allah means God by the way

39. apple-rulz

Posts: 2198; Member since: Dec 27, 2016

There is no god. Stop believing in fairy tales.

50. T12RYK

Posts: 849; Member since: Jun 10, 2011

We'll see whether you still saying that in HELL!! #Trolling

53. Klinton

Posts: 1409; Member since: Oct 24, 2016

Of course THERE IS A GOD. Muslim call is Allah, Christians call it God, ......and atheists call it Nature. But the holy rules are the same for all.

56. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Most korean (more than half IIRC) doesn't even have formal religion. And only around ~25% is Christian.

43. Y.S.L..

Posts: 232; Member since: Jul 03, 2018

Let's pray to GOD

6. surethom

Posts: 1720; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

I hate that most tvs no longer have headphone Jack's can use any Pc or other speakers. 3.5mm headphone jack on phones don't need to die.

45. epdm2be

Posts: 824; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

Weird. Mine has. In fact i used it for over a year with a 2.1 pc speaker system before buying a surround amp. It's a 2 or 3 year old Sony bravia W805B. I assume that today's equivalent still have an audio-jack.

7. bucknassty

Posts: 1353; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

eh... with everything going wireless its bound to happen...

11. xtroid2k

Posts: 601; Member since: Jan 11, 2010

Just because a technology is old; doesn't make it irrelevant. This is one of the things that frustrate me about apple. The jack works; leave it alone. Change is good but we must analyze what is necessary and what is BS!

46. epdm2be

Posts: 824; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

The article clearly stated what Apple's motives were. Fueled by greed as usual. "..With (traditional) wired headphones out of the equation, the company could aggressively promote its own cable-free AirPods..."

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