No, I need that headphone jack!⋅ 3 min read
I've ranted about this before, but I wanted to take another long and hard look at this whole situation — phone manufacturers removing the headphone jack.
I shall now proceed to talk about how fucking stupid this is!
Granted, Apple isn't the first major OEM to remove the headphone jack — that dubious distinction actually belongs to Oppo. Back in 2012, Oppo launched the Finder without a headphone jack and bundled micro-USB earphones with the phone; they discontinued it after a year on the market, probably realizing what a colossal mistake that was. However, Chinese OEMs did not give up on the idea and continued experimenting with removing it; most notably Oppo (again, smh), Vivo and LeEco. They were all just that - experiments, until Apple decided to ditch the jack in the iPhone 7. And they had the balls to call it "courage".
The problem with Apple making any big decision like this is, they have a humongous clout of influence and have little real competition. If an Android OEM removed the headphone jack, consumers can pick another. Consumers that want the Apple experience have no choice but to accept whatever Apple gives them.
Android see, Android do
At the original Pixel's launch event, Google took a not-so-subtle jab at Apple for ditching the headphone jack. This was actually on their marketing material —
3.5mm headphone jack satisfyingly not new
Only a year later, Google pulled an Apple and released the Pixel 2 without a headphone jack. Why? For the glory of Satan, of course. Or probably because everyone follows in Apple's footsteps, for good or bad.
Why they're doing this to us
With increasing unrest amongst the masses, various OEMs have explained why they removed the headphone jack.
- Google product chief Mario Queiroz told TechCrunch —
“The primary reason [for dropping the jack] is establishing a mechanical design path for the future”.
- Apple Senior VP of hardware Engineering Dan Riccio told BuzzFeed —
“It was holding us back from a number of things we wanted to put into the iPhone... It was fighting for space with camera technologies and processors and battery life. And frankly, when there’s a better, modern solution available, it’s crazy to keep it around”.
- During the same interview, Apple VP of iOS, iPhone & iPad marketing Greg Joswiak said —
“The audio connector is more than 100 years old... It had its last big innovation about 50 years ago. You know what that was? They made it smaller. It hasn’t been touched since then. It’s a dinosaur. It’s time to move on”.
Why this is anti-consumer
- On wanting to make thinner phones.
Unless they are making a phone with titanium or polycarbonate, OEMs must stop making thinner phones. And don't even get me started on devices with glass backs. How often do you run into a person that says "Man, I wish my phone was thinner"? If you are one of those mythical creatures, fight me 1v1. Also, look at the Galaxy S8 - it packed in more technology AND a headphone jack at almost the same thickess as the iPhone 7.
- On calling the technology "old".
It has lasted a 100 years probably because it works. And they're ubiquitous for that reason - they're on computers, laptops, 99% of current mobile phones, car audio systems, ATMs, credit card readers and a whole range of accessories!
- On Apple calling it "courage".
Apple has historically been on the forefront of ditching obsolete technology - removing floppy drives, CD/DVD drives, etc. It made sense to remove those because they had better alternatives. The headphone jack, on the other hand, does not have a better alternative! So no, Apple, this isn't courage; your opinion is bad and you should feel bad.
- On wireless being the future.
Bluetooth headphones come with a whole bunch of problems - worse audio quality due to compression, stuttering/skipping, pairing (not to mention proprietary solutions like Google's Fast Pair only worsening vendor lock-in) and limited battery life. Remember that time when headphones didn't need charing or even a battery?
- On living with the new USB-C to AUX dongle.
I'd have to carry a dongle in my pocket now? The dongle has a DAC too, because fuck analog, right? It is just one additional point of failure. What happens when you lose the dongle? What happens when you want to charge your phone and listen to music at the same time?
Light at the end of the tunnel
A lot of people have talked about the problems with this transition, but there might be some positives to come out of this.
- Bluetooth 5.0 and aptX HD hopefully improve the shitty audio quality that Bluetooth offers today.
- Better waterproof devices - the iPhone 7+ and Pixel 2 are both IP67 rated, admittedly because they got rid of the headphone jack. But then the Galaxy S8 also has a IP67 rating and a headphone jack, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
- More room for a bigger battery!
While I'm being cautiously optimistic of this change, I will hold on dearly to my headphone jack-equipped phone and all of my headphones. Apple and Google can pry them away from my cold dead hands.