We might not like it, but you know deep inside that Apple’s prediction of the wireless future is the way forward.
In our last blog post, we made the case that the lack of a headphone jack could be a deal breaker for some consumers. It’s a comfortable consistency, like knowing that no matter where you are in the world, McDonald’s hamburgers will taste pretty much the same. But maybe, just maybe, the loss of the headphone jack isn’t the end of the world? Maybe critics of the jack are right, that we’re only holding onto retro technology only for the sake of nostalgia. Let’s take a look at why the move away from headphone jacks in latest generation devices might actually be a good thing.
Although plenty of smartphones still have the headphone jack and aren’t bending over backwards in the race for a slightly thinner profile and a slightly wider screen, two major brands perfectly encapsulate why the technology has stuck around.
The first of these is Samsung, and in particular, its Galaxy S8 and Note 8 lines. The company seems to have taken a close look at public reactions to the loss of a headphone jack and opted against following the path chosen by Apple. Samsung Senior Vice President Justin Denison actually received wild applause from an audience in New York when he unveiled the Note 8 with headphone jack.
Samsung decided that instead of a jarring transition, it would let its customers slowly adapt to change. The S8 ships with a pair of traditional wired earbuds for use with the device’s headphone jack. It and the Note 8 also come equipped with USB-C, if you prefer a digital audio experience instead.
On top of that, the S8 is the first phone equipped with Bluetooth 5, the latest iteration of the technology, which makes streaming to multiple earphone sets much, much easier. In essence, Samsung gave its customers the best of all worlds, so they can ease their way towards wireless.
OnePlus, for its part, made its decision to keep the port based on information from its customer base. According to surveys, some 80% of OnePlus owners still use the headphone jack, and 70% see audio quality as the most important feature for their device. With these numbers, the company argued that moving to USB-C or wireless only would not fundamentally enhance their customer experience.
Samsung and OnePlus aren’t alone in this either. Plenty of other Android-based flagship smartphones continue to have the headphone jack as standard: the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, the LG G6, the Huawei P10, even BlackBerry, to name a few.
Maybe Not a Big Deal
Despite the maybe losing the 3.5mm headphone jack isn’t such a big deal after all.
Why, you ask?
Well, there are at least three good reasons.
BlueTooth 5 IS FINALLY HERE
First, let’s tackle Bluetooth, which continues to have a reputation for poor reliability and sound quality. That idea, however, may be coming to an end with Bluetooth 5.
According to tests by Android Authority, Bluetooth 5 almost doubles the speed of data transmission from its predecessor format. It also works at a much further range than Bluetooth 4.2 and improves battery life, meaning that wireless speakers and headphones should have more stability for longer periods.
On top of that, Android’s new Oreo operating system will eventually support high-quality sound processing codecs from Bluetooth, like aptX, aptX HD, and LDAC.
USB-C Audio is Simply Better
Moving on, we can look at sound quality for various “plugged in” headphones. As we’ve mentioned, 3.5mm is a super old-school technology, pre-your grandparents age. It’s been around so long because it works well.
But with the advent of USB-C, it probably won’t be able to keep up. The fundamental difference is that while 3.5mm stays analog with its sound transmission, USB-C finally brings audio listening into the 21st Century with digital data conversion over the connection line itself. This means that your headphones don’t rely on the processing power of your connected device or smartphone. It also reduces variances and noise picked up during transmission from the device, which will improve music and audio quality overall. Add to that the ability to easily add noise cancellation technology to USB-C and it seems to be the future of wired headphones.
The Future is Wireless
Finally, and to be a bit blunt, Apple and Google won’t be u-turning on their decision to remove the headphone jack. It’s done, the battle is over. Consumers can, for a time, rely on other smartphone brands to keep the jack, but eventually they will convert as well.
The future is wireless audio listening. But that’s not a bad thing! Wireless is portable. It doesn’t take up plug space. It has great quality, and it’s only getting better.
If you’re worried, opt for transition smartphone like the S8 for your next purchase or better go Bluetooth. But either way, there’s no need to panic about the end of the headphone jack.
THERE’S NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO GRAB A PAIR OF BLUETOOTH HEADPHONES.
What do you think? Is the lack of a headphone jack a deal breaker for your next smartphone purchase? Or are you happy with wireless? Tell us in the comments below.