It was 2016 that Apple announced it would be ditching the headphone Jack and for the smartphone industry, it was the shot heard round the world.
There is a reason why Apple removed the headphone Jack from the iPhone 7 and surprisingly courage is not one of them. Samsung also just removed the decades-old technology from its phones, even though it took every opportunity to ridicule Apple for the headphone jacks removal in the past.
With the launch of the Galaxy Note 10 in August of 2019, Samsung ditched the Jack too. Samsung was one of those companies that criticize the rest of the industry for not having headphone jacks and conveniently forgot to mention that they got rid of it in their newest note 10.
The headphone Jack has been around for more than 100 years, so why are companies increasingly removing them from our phones?
Let’s start with a brief history of the components needed to make mobile music what it is today, starting with the beloved audio Jack. The grandparent to the standard 3.5 mm Jack the quarter-inch Jack, was used all the way back in late 1800 by switchboard operators. The larger Jack continued its reign until the 1970s when Sony released the Walkman. The first widely available mobile music device.
The walkman was also the first successful commercial example of the same 3.5 mm Jack we use today. An obvious next step was the rise of the MP3 and the MP3 player popularized by Apple’s iPod. It was 2001 when Steve Jobs took the stage to announce the iPod. The Siemens SL45 was released in 2001 and was the first phone that was also a mobile music device.
This set off a trend in the mobile world. Music was now a must but the SL45 was not the first phone with the headphone Jack. The Nokia 3310 had a headphone, Jack. back then there wasn’t really any wireless communications standard that was acceptable enough to do good headset phone calls so was kind of born out of a necessity to deliver high-quality headset calls.
By the mid-2000s, there were many phones that could also play music but we’re still limited by storage and battery life. Bluetooth grew in popularity around the same time and that spelled the beginning of the end for the headphone Jack now that wireless listening was possible.
While wired headphones may seem antiquated most audio files prefer the sound quality from this analog port. The reason why you would want to go wired over wireless is that compression that you get over Bluetooth. All the Bluetooth standards, for the most part, have some kind of compression which then affects the actual quality of the audio. Thing is headset wire can be really frustrating especially when you’re working out or need mobility.
While Bluetooth technology has come a long way, it still has its pitfalls. Bluetooth sucks right now but then the optimist in me hopes that removing the headphone Jack will act as a springboard for companies to work harder at integrating Bluetooth and wireless audio technology.
So why did Apple decide to remove the jack from the iPhone 7?
See there’s not a whole lot of space inside of a smartphone. Tech companies have crammed more and more into that incredibly limited space and when something becomes antiquated it’s got to go making the phones thinner and allowing for other components.
The removal of the headphone Jack also helped the iPhone 7 receive its IP 67 water-resistant rating, so that were some good reasons behind its removal. The choice to leave off the audio Jack came simultaneously with the announcement of apples $159 air pods which called into question, Apple’s real motives behind the exclusion. Was it monetarily motivated because the headphone jack wasn’t making any money for Apple?
Apple lightning port is a proprietary connector meaning, companies have to pay Apple just to make a compatible device. The charge a fee to License their lightning port, the can get more money if you have to make a lightning accessory.
Thing is when Apple kills something it usually creates a Domino effect in the Tech world. They remove the floppy drive, they are moved to CD ROM drive from their Mac and people went crazy right but people kept buying the devices and their competitor is quite frankly followed their direction 2 or 3 years later. so slowly other larger companies started to follow suit but Samsung kept its grip on the audio Jack.
With its most recent phone release, Samsung finally left out the headphone Jack without mentioning anything during the keynote about why had left it out and even took down some content that challenged apple’s decision. There could have been a story where this is the best most compact device you can make some compromises if you don’t like it we have a bigger version for you if you don’t like either you can still get asked but the fact that they didn’t even address it was a little bit not great.
Samsung did tell some news agencies that it removed the headphone Jack to make more Room for its powerful battery. There are still some brands like LG that find the space for a headphone Jack whether it be for its audio file customers or its customers who don’t want to or can’t afford the switch.
If you know other markets like China and India the headphone Jack and actually micro USB are still important because people can’t get rid of their old chargers or can afford them. Luckily for those who want to keep their headphones many of the big phone makers are coming out with lower-cost models of their flagship phones like the Google 3A and 3A XL which into the headphone Jack.
They still consider a lot of people that want the headphone Jack because they can’t afford wireless earbuds that are good. There are so many awesome phones that are the $500 level that will have the headphones.
Again, like it or not, it looks like the headphone jack is gone for good when it comes to the top and flagship phones. I think they are going for the top phones and they won’t stop until they get there, in fact, some speculate we might not even get buttons in a few years.