Counterclockwise: the rise (and impending doom) of the 3.5mm audio jack

17 November 2017
From proprietary COM ports through a short flirtation with 2.5mm to USB-C and beyond.

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  • Adrian

AnonD-80334, 21 Nov 2017I agree with the redundancy, yeah same audio could be achie... moreThat's exactly what they do it for "money" did anyone really think they do this for giving the consumer's a better product? Really? Lol.

  • AnonD-441601

AnonD-546033, 26 Nov 2017In 2001 phones didnt have 3.5 jack, you living in a cave no... moreMan i hate apple from apple 6 i had.
Its just stupid expensive phone which do nothing extra apart its cost a lot. Same phone for 1/3 of its price can do the same things.
And nowdays less and less phones have jack for headphones.

  • AnonD-546033

Removal of 3.5 is just bad move, since you cant:
1)Charge phone and listen to music.
2)Use your 3.5 hp anymore
But you have to:
1)Spend more money on a bt headphones(they dont last more than 1 year usually, you will have to buy another pair). You will get worse sound quality and another gaget to charge.
2)Dongles?What is it, 2005? Do tou remember what happened to fastport after a while? Or you all kids that never used feauture phones? 1 year and there we go, a shaking usb c port,u need to buy new device or listen to music thought speakers.
No thanks, apple isheeps, i will use good headphones with 3.5, rather then think that i am a rich boss since i have a money to buy all your tehnical bloatware.

  • AnonD-546033

AnonD-441601, 19 Nov 2017Man then move to a cave and live like humans long time past... moreIn 2001 phones didnt have 3.5 jack, you living in a cave now!
Also, you probably dont listen to any music thought headphones, since you against 3.5,or listening with bt heaphones, most of those sound as bas as a speaker on my phone.
Or you just a blind apple fan, that is probably the case.

FinnishInquisition, 24 Nov 2017Your posting of three opinion pieces without any sources to... moreNo luck my hot dude, whatever i will say or post you will keep repeating the same lines.. it's pointless from both of us!
You keep believing what you think is good.. for you. 3,5 headphone jack isn't going anywhere that's the fact. You like dongles and add ons? Fine enjoy them. But this doesn't mean it's replacing something. I like regular 3,5 headphones, that's fine as well.
Now can I get a hug and let this over like this?

Denis Thomas, 24 Nov 2017Ok big boy, just for your sorry mob: https://www.theverge.c... moreYour posting of three opinion pieces without any sources to their claims is evidence of what, exactly? That three people think like you, and are as bad at citing sources for their claims?

Denis Thomas, 23 Nov 2017The sales of smartphones made by google, apple and htc. Of ... moreFirst of all, Android device users have a very large selection of devices to choose from. That they still pick phones without the 3.5 mm port is sufficient evidence of how few people actually care about the port.

Secondly, you haven't posted any proof of anything you've said so far. Please do so immedately.

Lastly, I've told you about the benefits of removing the 3.5 mm port sveral times in this thread. It's probably time for you to learn how to read and take in what your opponents write to you, instead of childishly calling them names and responding with self-censored swearing instead of well-based arguments.
The removal of the 3.5 mm port means freed-up internal volume, the potential for sleeker devices with better internal layouts or external designs and cheaper, easier and more long-term reliable waterproofing. The smartphones as a whole become cheaper to manufacture, which in a competitive ecosystem like Android means cheaper devices for the consumers or more money spent on other features like the camera. On top of that, moving away from the 3.5 mm port incentivises audio companies to manufacture USB-C peripherals, meaning the more device manufacturer that move over, the better supported the USB-C ecosystem gets.

Nobody has "roasted" me in this thread. So far all I've read are arguments from ignorance, which are quickly set straight with the most basic knowledge on the subject. Your own lack of arguments do explain why you constantly go for personal attacks instead of discussing the subject, though.

FinnishInquisition, 23 Nov 2017The very strong sales numbers for devices without 3.5 mm po... moreThe sales of smartphones made by google, apple and htc. Of course the sales would be high! its the brand here. Even if they remove the camera people still gonna buy their smartphones. Go at an apple store prior the next release of the latest iphone with all the mindless zombies who line up. Most don't even know what's new and what's not. They simply want the latest.

The sales means that the brainwashing campaigns actually work, and unlike you i gave you proof.
But with all the respect, provide me with why me, as a customer, can benefit from the removal of a feature, and with the benefits from it.
If you can't, simply get the f out of my kitchen if you can't take the heat. You provide no benefits to all of us roasting you on the subject so far, and continue repeating the same lines over and over.

Denis Thomas, 23 Nov 2017And you go outside and ask people around baby, see what the... moreThe very strong sales numbers for devices without 3.5 mm ports show people simply don't care about the 3.5 mm port. And USB-C headphones work on all devices with USB-C ports, which is to say ALL modern devices.

Your conspiracy theories are just that: conspiracy theories.

FinnishInquisition, 22 Nov 2017Look at the Bowers & Wilkins PX, Libratone Q Adapt In-E... moreAnd you go outside and ask people around baby, see what they think about the ditching of 3.5 jack then have an opinion. They don't want replaces, especially ones that offer no benefit. If you have usbc headphones well remember.. they don't work on 3.5 headphone jacks. So pc, laptops, tvs, mp3 players etc are out of the question without the stupid dongle.
Meaning what you ask? No benefit.., it's the opposite.
Companies are brainwashing you people to buy their stuff. a pair of average usbc headphones cost more than a pair of good regular headphones for a reason. There is a reason companies announce usbc headphones along their smartphones now..
Think people.., it's obvious what's going on.

  • mathew7

My biggest problems with dongles is that I never seem to find it when I need it. Phones with 3.5mm jack offer me the option to use any headphone, regardless of where I am (home, office, friends place, store). Needing a dongle means another object to look after, which is mostly unused (all those locations may not need music every time). I would rather have a separate player than a dongle.
As for DAC quality, I, personally, don't see a need for noise-cancellation where that quality could be "sampled". If I need quiet time, I can use a PC as a source. When I'm on the road (on foot or bike), I want to hear what happens around me; and that eliminates any DAC advantage.
Bluetooth, I won't accept it for music. Not matter the improvements of audio quality. You still have an extra battery that needs monitoring, not to mention the extra phone drain. I still get 3 days with my 2-year old Z5C, even with music.

Denis Thomas, 22 Nov 2017He still doesn't get it. The majority of people don't like ... moreLook at the Bowers & Wilkins PX, Libratone Q Adapt In-Ear or JBL Reflect Aware C and tell me where the dongle is located. Come back here and let me know when you realize there is no dongle.

AnonD-80334, 21 Nov 2017I agree with the redundancy, yeah same audio could be achie... moreThe point of some built-in DAC's in smartphones being worse than a cheap dongle is to highlight that the solution of having the DAC built into the smartphone isn't a good solution for audio quality. If your phone has a bad DAC/amp, you can't do anything about it apart from switching out your entire phone. If it comes built into the headphones instead, you yourself get to choose what level of audio quality you want when buying audio equipment.

With USB-C headphones, you don't need a DAC/amp in the smartphone. The DAC/amp is located in the headphones.
As for the ANC, when it was located in 3.5 mm headphones it required a battery that needed to be charged. In USB-C headphones it taps into the smartphone battery instead - no need to charge anything other than your smartphone. And no, the drain is so minimal it won't affect your smartphone battery life.
ANC is useful for more locations than airplanes. Anything from traffic noise to office noise, and similar areas where you listen to portable audio, benefit from having ANC built-in. In addition, even cheaper earbuds could take advantage of ANC as the paired device could take care of the processing for it.

And USB-C isn't a monopoly. It's an open standard, just like the 3.5 mm port. The previous standard (USB-A) has been around for 21 years, and is still going. This isn't a "micro-USB" scenario, it's a complete replacement of the USB-A port. There's no reason to think the USB-C port won't last as long, with equal backwards compatibility to the very first iteration.

I don't see the 3.5 mm port as redundant on anything but portable devices, where other solutions are far more suitable and space is of a far higher priority. I have an expensive amplifier and wired headphones at home, that I imagine will last for a good many years to come. But when I'm out with my smartphone, either wireless solutions or solutions that can offer me noise cancellation, headset capabilities, etc, are far more important to me. I respect your opinion to disagree with this, but just wanted to point out why I think the switch on portable devices makes sense. Especially to those of us who don't even use the 3.5 mm port on their phones, laptops and tablets.

He still doesn't get it. The majority of people don't like stupid dongles to hear their music, its that simple.., no alternatives. There is absolutely no gain with the removal of an important feature, and with these facts the conversation is over from my part on this subject.
Get real world education people, ask around others about it and see what they think.

  • AnonD-80334

FinnishInquisition, 21 Nov 2017As I said, a floppy disk meant immediate storage of files f... moreI agree with the redundancy, yeah same audio could be achieved via USB - C, but again if the push is for headphones with usb c connectors, we are going back to being reliant on onboard DAC(hence current situation) and a dongle DAC outperformed onboard DAC isn't really limitation of on-board DAC, they fitted poor onboard DAC hence it fared poor, they put a better dac it will do better job. Main focus of these manufacturers isn't pushing USB C headphones, if that were the case Apple still has proprietary lightning port, which causes fragmentation in headphone space. 3.5mm is however widely accepted not someone's monopoly.

Active noise cancellation is available on headphones with 3.5mm connector it's not exclusive to USB - C port, bose is selling those. As I mentioned, it has its uses in specific scenario(mostly in plane travel), not everybody uses it and it would require an additional component to generates nullifying frequencies so those headphones won't be on par in terms of cost as that of standard headphone either. hence it's upto people whether to have one with active noise cancelling.

Agree that smartphones are getting congested but not like they are offering anything of use to consumer in return taking away the convenience. Besides that, USB and thunderbolt have changed connectors in past 5 years, whereas that 3.5mm jack has been around for quite a while(had one on my sony walkman from 1998, that's my earliest memory of that jack), people can invest in quality audiophile gear because they know their headphones are not going to be outdated in 5 years, for example HD 650 I bought in 2010 will still function on any 3.5mm or 6.3 mm connctor across broad category of audio equipment, numerous of which still use mini usb, micro USB or proprietary power source, That jack however is universal. People can't invest in expensive gear if ports keep changing and when USB or thunderbolt evolved from gen 1 to 3 they added solid data throughput upgrade each gen, audio quality is more saturated and doesn't change that much, while there's still headroom for more data throughput, hence it might change connector 'Again'. So there's that angle too.

Again, you see that port as mainly redundant, i see replacing that as giving more inconveniences compared to what we get in return for that inconvenience. Combine that with the wireless audio push from 2 leading smartphone giants, you get why i can't help but feel this is deliberate move to monetize accessories. There's nothing wrong in making accessories but when you try taking away convenience to give a push to consumer for those accessories you kind of get for lack of exact word, ' A conflict of interest', not for the sake of technology or making audio better but for additional monetary gain.

AnonD-80334, 21 Nov 2017Andy Rubin mentioned large bezels were due to 3.5 mm jack a... moreAs I said, a floppy disk meant immediate storage of files for transfer, while CD's couldn't offer the same. That a CD could store more is irrelevant as people didn't have CD-burners, and CD's were very costly. You could transfer files over the web however, which was the intended switch.

And active noise cancellation is a major factor of portable music listening. The one time you're subjected to noise is when you're out and about.
I know Bluetooth has been around for a while, but the better codecs and stable connections are rather new. Furthermore, the technology has been rather expensive until recently. The main switch is intended to be towards USB-C, not Bluetooth however.

I agree that the 3.5 mm port adds a layer of convenience, in conjunction with its universality. I don't think anyone is disputing that. The problem is that we've run low on space in modern smartphones, and have started cutting things out of the devices to keep the form factor, while also keeping the cost down.

Speaking of last years Pixel, it had an absolutely awful built-in DAC. This years Pixel 2 had a dongle that far outperformed the Pixel 1's audio output. That should tell you something about the disadvantage of relying on built-in DAC's. Samsung are also not known for good DAC's, where the 7-series was really bad. This year was better, but the Pixel 2 dongle outperformed the Note 8 in power.

The 3.5 mm port (especially on waterproofed devices) does add to the cost, especially since quality DAC's and amplifiers are expensive. Samsung and LG manufacture their own OLED panels however, which means they get away far cheaper than the others. Samsung's de facto monopoly on OLED panels means other manufacturers have to pay exorbitant fees for the panels, and have far less money left to use on other parts. But the main reason for its removal is quite simply because it's an extra port whose function has already been doubled by the USB-C port, in conjunction with fewer people using it year by year.

Anonymous, 21 Nov 2017Dummy you already have internal DAC to drive the loudspeake... moreThe speaker DAC is typically built into the speaker unit itself. It's not a DAC you can repurpose for the USB port (or 3.5 mm port). Read up on the issue before posting, thank you.

  • AnonD-80334

FinnishInquisition, 21 Nov 2017The screen to body ratio has nothing to do with built-in po... moreAndy Rubin mentioned large bezels were due to 3.5 mm jack at the launch event of essential phone so yeah that's why i brought the screen to body ratio in the debate.

It's not same as CD floppy comparison, floppies could not hold the data in the amounts a CD could have so CD still was a better in significant way. It was expensive but it was better even at the time of transition. This is not the case with 3.5mm jack. bluetooth has been around for a while. wireless audio can add some features but the audio quality largely a factor of DAC. You put better onboard DAC you get better audio. No need to have a different port. Noise cancelling is not required in everyday scenario and not required by all.

People can have better inbuilt DAC and Amps (LG V30 and Samsung Wolfson DAC are some examples), technically having audio routing through USB can give advantage of custom DAC, but having a 3.5 mm port does not get in your way if you still wanna use USB C port for audio. That jack is about convenience for a lot of people.

And Pixel last year had an audio jack(even made fun of apple) and this year they ditched it while launching pixel buds on the side..... Far too convenient to ignore what purpose is, people can choose to see it the other way as claimed by the manufacturers but I'd rather see it for what it is.

Again, since samsung/lg deploy top quality dac and keep port doesn't mean google has to, but BoM and manufacturing costs haven't changed much due to a jack(not to a point impacting price anyway) or the lack thereof, it's a convenient excuse for them to ditch the jack and put their accessories for sale. Off-course you are free to look at it the way you want. I can't get past that Airpods and pixel buds launch the same year.

  • Anonymous

FinnishInquisition, 21 Nov 2017All your audio from a smartphone is digital, and converted ... moreDummy you already have internal DAC to drive the loudspeaker why would i need another external DAC to drive my headphones?? Internal interference is BS people are having great internal DAC since the N91, Walkman series, then there's the wolfsons in galaxy series, htc and lg all have great DACs.. Just because you can find a way around does not mean it is better.. By your logic the next step is to remove the internal DAC with the loudspeaker altogether.. Because you already have external DAC and that will leave the phone with just beeps and boops.. HAHAHA now do you get it?? Removing the 3.5mm jack is a step backward whichever way you look at it..