Flashback: the headphone jack has been around for over 100 years, still has a place on phones

15 March 2020
The simple 3.5mm plug is a jack of all trades, if you'll pardon the pun. It handles music and call, acts as an FM antenna and even a TV out port.

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Just for comparison purposes today's high quality BT codecs started to scratch the 17 bit limit (for instance LDAC in highest form 96KHz 24 bit tops at 98 dB at 990 KB/s bitrates but only achieved with LG and Sony handsets & on short distance) which is over 16 bit 96 dB limits & new antenna designs which separate it from SoC and give good amplification of signal do give a window of opportunity to achieve full CD quality & that's enough for most folks & applies to most digital music quality available today. But they are far from HiFi or what is achievable by wire (123 dB SINAD & absolutely no roll of up to 100 KHz [per channel] right now). Lo latency problem is solvable by using for instance Opus which isn't exactly lo complexity but designing almost real time ASIC decoder with very low power consumption wouldn't really be a problem while quality again wouldn't exactly be better than LDAC or similar as Opus is hard limited at 20 KHz. Note from Android 10 Opus is also part of Android media framework.

nate0, 16 Mar 2020I'm for the most part an audiophile. OK. You mentioned high e... moreWell all phone's for better or worse have DAC & will continue to do so with or without headaphone jack. What most of them lack is a deacent amplifier & even those with one are deliberately firmware limited like LG ThinQ series. DAC's such as those integrated in higher range of Qualcomm SoC's aren't in any way inferior to self stand DAC chips of other manufacturers but Android & even much more so iOS is. Today you can buy more than deacent USB DAC Amp for phone for some 40€ or less like Meizu HiFi Pro or TempoTec Sonata HD Pro to name a few, personally I am more for sell battery powerd one's as those eliminate good part of electronic interfere trogh power source. All do USB DAC will help you bypass OS limitations there's no rose garden there either as lots of things aren't standardised, there's very little apps that will actually do all right and Android USB digital audio V2 driver is still rather limited & not exactly top quality amongst other things. Why don't DAC Amp's in phones sound as good as USB portable one's or (great) DAP's & this not as good as desktop self stand one's? Simply because they aren't isolated properly and are prone (they all are) in picking in all kinds of electrical & magnetic interfaces. More place gives a better separation of components and lowers the interfaces simple as that. Solution? Thin layer of graphite film applied over IC's & silver plated interconnects (both internal and cable).

  • Anonymous

WazzaG, 15 Mar 2020And because deaf sooner. And dead or injured sooner. Yes you're right. I have a budget Sony headphones. It is 5 years old but still works fine.

  • Anonymous

Abhi-Darth-Plagueis, 16 Mar 2020yeah man! I blame apple for this. Bluetooth audio has been ar... moreAlso imagine being a self-proclaimed environmentalist while calling for total replacement of a wired standard with disposable hipster BT headsets.

Flgshp2020, 16 Mar 2020LG V60 giving much better audio experience than garbage Xperia 1 II. How do you know? You own both devices? Xperia 1 II is not even out yet.

imparanoic, 16 Mar 2020the only phone which has 2.5mm balanced output was asia only onk... moreToday there's more Android based DAP's with basic phone functionality and balanced 2.5 mm jack, recently even one or two with mini LRX appeared. Balanced gives you a same thing as high impedance with less expense of power amplification. You get slightly increased dynamic range & better separation (32 Ohm's example 70 vs 90 dB of separation but it works also & on high impedance one's 150 Ohm's 90 vs 110 dB) by better grounding and isolation. Let's say that combined high impedance and balanced in the LRX gives you a full scale of hear able range in chanel separation.

Anonymous, 16 Mar 2020Xperia 1 ll has 3.5mm and LDAC, so the choice is yours either w... morexperia 1, xperia 5, xperia 1 ii, xperia xz3, all support ldac, aptx hd, bluetooth 5.0 for high bitrate audio

  • Anonymous

ProJames-CHM, 15 Mar 2020Do you have any idea how much space is wasted inside the phone f... morelol

  • Anonymous

PartTimePhoner, 15 Mar 2020I dont know how anyone can even get behind the removal of 3.5mm ... moreThats my bro. PS I own Sony headphones and earphone like many others and they are way better.

  • Anonymous

TheArtist, 15 Mar 2020See, I am a man of simple taste. I see the jack missing on a pho... moreThat's my bro lol

ProJames-CHM, 15 Mar 2020The S5 is 8mm thin and has a jack, waterproofing and a removable... moreyeah man!

I blame apple for this. Bluetooth audio has been around for years, it never threatened the wired audio. it was kind of a 'peaceful co-existence' situation. But then they released their crappoking TWS Sh*tpods and immediately next other manufacturers got an excuse to follow suit.

It's ironical that all of it was orchestrated by a company whose audio was always decent, among the best in phones.

But I think there's still a chance this stuff could turn around for the better, Sony reversed its policy. Most of the gaming phones insist on 3.5 mm jacks. Games suck on TWS phones anyway, and that crowd can get very vocal very soon.

I hope they never resolve the latency issue with bluetooth *evil grin*

Boeing 747-400, 16 Mar 2020Lets bring back the 2.5mm jack instead of 3.5mm jack. 2.5mm jack... morethe only phone which has 2.5mm balanced output was asia only onkyo dp-cmx1, i also can not hear the difference between balanced 2.5mm/4.4mm or unbalanced 3.5mm on earphones less than 24 ohms impedence, in my opinion only earphones /headphones exceeding 24ohns has any difference with balanced 2.5mm/4.4mm.

Anonymous, 16 Mar 2020Xperia 1 ll has 3.5mm and LDAC, so the choice is yours either w... moreLG V60 giving much better audio experience than garbage Xperia 1 II.

  • Anonymous

need it for gaming, no latency compare to bluetooth.

  • Boeing 747-400

Lets bring back the 2.5mm jack instead of 3.5mm jack. 2.5mm jack saves more space and its reliable to use. However, many people dont care or dont know that there was 2.5mm jack.

  • Theodore

Kangal, 16 Mar 2020...I mean, why not just use a 2.5mm headphone jack instead? Y... more2.5mm headphone jack is typically Ballance same as 4.4mm.

I'm for the most part an audiophile.
OK. You mentioned high end phones are ditching the jack for USB c but the high end phone a lot of them lacks a DAC. To me that's just bogus. Samsung LG and maybe a couple Chinese makers either keep the jack with a DAC or drop it and keep the DAC with USB C. I hope flagships catch on to this because a mobile phone is more of a multimedia device than any TV or other compact screen hw. They should be able to deliver hi quality content without sacrificing or making folks buy additional junk.

You all recently changed how you review audio in your Reviews. I cannot tell for sure if you dropped headphone jack output as a review or moved to an audio over usb stat maybe. Either way I hope you do not get rid of your digital analog plot and response test. That alone is an aspect that makes or breaks a flagship just like it's screen brightness color accuracy or ability to produce a decent macro shot.

  • Anonymous

PartTimePhoner, 15 Mar 2020But for now, $50 sony headphones that have wires beat off all $1... moreXperia 1 ll has 3.5mm and LDAC, so the choice is yours either wire or wireless you get better audio experience.

  • Anonymous

the headphone jack has been around for over 100 years, apple killed it in just a couple of years. in our smartphone at least

  • Gil

I dont know what is a downside for new phones to not having the headphone jack, I haven´t use it for years now and I guess that if you are getting a new mid-tier or above phone you won´t need one, get some TWS :)