Death To The 3.5mm Audio Jack, Long Live Wireless

There’s been a lot of fuss over Apple’s move to ditch the traditional audio jack. As for me, I hope I never have to plug in another headphone cable. This may come off as gleeful dancing on the gravesite of my enemy before the hole has even been dug; it kind of is. The jack has always been a pain point in my devices. Maybe I’ve just been unlucky. Money was tight growing up. I would save up for a nice set of headphones or an mp3 player only to have the jack go out. It was a clear betrayal and ever since I’ve regarded them with suspicion. Is this the best we could do?

I can’t think of a single good reason not to immediately start dumping the headphone jack. Sure it’s one of the few global standards. Sure it’s simple, but I’m willing to take bets that very few people will miss the era of the 3.5mm audio jack once it’s over. It’s a global episode of the sunk cost fallacy.

In the usual way hindsight is 20/20, the 3.5mm audio jack can be looked at as a workaround, a stop over until we didn’t need it.  It appears to be an historic kludge of hack upon hack until something better comes along. When was the last time it was common to hook an Ethernet cable into a laptop? Who would do this when we can get all the bandwidth we want reliably over a wireless connection. Plus, it’s not like most Ethernet cables even meet a spec well enough to meet the speeds they promise. How could anyone reasonably expect the infinitely more subjective and variable headphone and amplifier set to do better?

But rather than just idly trash it, I’d like to make a case against it and paint a possible painless and aurally better future.


Let’s say you had to design a consumer facing device that goes in someone’s pocket. A pocket is dusty. It’s moist and sweaty. You know your stuff so you’re already thinking about gaskets and IP ratings. Then someone hands you the spec sheet. They let you know that they want you to drill a hole right in it and put an unserviceable deep hole in the case. Now rinse repeat for every portable device on the planet and it seems like an odd mass hallucination.

I guess if someone were having a really bad day they could spill coffee at the swtichboard... [CC Joe]
I guess if someone were having a really bad day they could spill coffee at the switchboard… [CC Joseph C.]
There is no good way to seal or maintain a 3.5mm headphone jack. Some phone makers have tried by adding a little gasket or a flap, but this doesn’t last. There’s also a chance that it could be sealed off, but since it has to have little springs inside and holders it’s still susceptible to damage from liquids and dust by nature. I’ve even seen some get irreparably corroded by the salt from sweat alone.

It’s like we all agreed to ignore the fact that these connectors were designed to be used in a switch board. A nice clean dry switchboard in a professional location where it would be used by trained personnel and serviced regularly. It was designed to be an easy to use connector that could be plugged in and removed quickly for low-quality audio phone switching. It was never designed to be the end-all connector for quality audio signals. Moving it out into the world could arguably have just been a quick hack. Using a connector that was already adopted and manufactured on a large enough scale when home audio began to be a common thing.

Since we’ve already gotten rid of the keyboards on mobile devices (which is a shame, but that’s another article). Since every manufacturer seems to be horribly committed to irreplaceable batteries. There’s just no reason not to move towards fully waterproof and dustproof devices. There could at least be a bright side. The audio port is holding us back.

Cable Strain

A story as old as time, which incidently is about as old as the headphone jack.
It’s not the cord’s fault. It was sent to the frontlines without the right equipment.  [CC Paul Hussey]
Next comes cable strain. People like to complain about how the iPhone earbuds would constantly break at the joint. This is true, and other brands had better strain relief. However, it’s also true that all audio cables that go into a pocket will break before any of the other components will reach their end of service life. By nature, a pocket exceeds every reasonable expectation of in-tolerance cable strain. It is a hostile environment. My last set of headphones went through two cables during regular use. Which segues right into the next design flaw, force.


As mentioned before, the audio connector was designed to be easily inserted inside a switch board room. It would see no dramatic force on it. So it’s a tall connector that is easy to hold and easy to use. It also is supposed to be a low insertion force connector. So it’s unreasonable to expect it to be able to hold a cable in place reliably.

However, when put into a pocket it suddenly sees forces perpendicular to its axis. This can cause some extremely large moments on a very tiny plastic and spring-metal socket. We all know that the longer we own our phones the less able our headphone socket will be to hold the jack in place. There’s simply no way to design something that small to take that much force and keep it cost effective. Rather it looks like we’ve just adjusted our expectations and then forgot that we even made that adjustment.

This seems even more insane from a design perspective when you consider that this connector which sees dramatic forces is actually attached to the mainboard of your device (to be fair, most smartphones do use spring connectors for jack to mainboard but think about laptops and other gear). Solder connections are not flexible. The metals we use for solder are very susceptible to work hardening and breaking under cyclical forces. So not only do you flex the connection of the port to the board itself, you also flex all the surrounding components. So It’s no mystery that one of the most common repairs on mobile devices are the audio and USB ports.

Sound Quality

Bluetooth's latest codec actually does better than 320kbps mp3.
Bluetooth’s codecs perform comparably 320kbps mp3. Which is beyond the ability of most listeners (including the author) to distinguish. From Serene Audio.

Right now there is still a difference in sound quality between Bluetooth and wired. There’s no reason to expect it to last long. Bluetooth is now capable of some seriously impressive bandwidth and with an actual market erupting for the headsets, it won’t be long before this is a moot point. I’m picking on Bluetooth specifically because it’s the only standard that’s both universal and intended, at least, for hooking peripherals up.

There’s a big argument for the sound quality aspect of the 3.5mm headphone jack. I think that, frankly, most of them make no sense against the transition. If you’re sitting still in your home-listening-chamber with a perfectly tuned preamplifier connected to quality headphones while listening to FLAC audio from your dedicated music computer you might be able to hear a perceptible difference from hooking directly to your phone with a Bluetooth headset. But you’re not. You have a noisy connection from a worn out port to a low quality cable with an unamplified signal to some cost engineered headphones. It’s a wash I think.

Plus, it’s not like switching to a wireless standard is going to absolutely kill the wired headphone market. You’ll still be able to get wired headphones for when the wire matters. People who are paying a hundred dollars plus for quality sound out of a wired headset will still have their toys. That market is very far from death. People who were paying ten bucks for whatever are not going to notice at all.

Most phones and portable devices waste zero energy trying to amplify the signal in a meaningful way. So if you want the full range of your headphones you have to add an amplifier. Then there’s the fact that they’re already class D audio amps trying to maximize the device’s battery life. By the time it gets to your ear it’s been triple digitized to death. Fortunately, we now have more processing power inside greeting cards than we reasonably know what to do with, so it’s unlikely that most would notice the difference.

However, the modern Bluetooth audio chips are actually really great, they’re only getting better. They’re ultra-low power class D amplifiers which were built and optimized for sound quality. With a lithium battery right there inside the headphone there’s no reason not to expect engineers to take advantage of that and stop designing every driver in the world to run off the two or three magic pixies a cell phone is willing to give it. It should actually be possible to have significantly better sounding wireless headphones than wired.

Convenience and User Experience

It's a cultural joke at this point.
It’s a cross-cultural joke at this point.

I bought a very cheap set of Bluetooth headphones off Amazon. I have rarely been so pleased with a purchase. Did they sound good? Not really, but I don’t expect any ten dollar headset to sound good. What I did get was an average of ten days of on and off use before the battery needed charging. I could go to the climbing gym and leave my cellphone on the ground while I climbed. When I worked on projects in the hackerspace I could walk up to thirty feet from my phone and not miss a word of my audio book. It connected automatically. It played nice. It was a better experience in every way.

With my headphones I’m always fighting with the cable. I’m always arranging my phone in my pocket so the cord isn’t flexed too much. It’s a cultural meme that headphones know more knots than we do.

Sure there are some flaws of the Bluetooth. Will we cover battery replacement hacks in a few years? Probably. Will there be growing pains? Of course. Will they be ironed out in the next few years? Most likely.


So how do we transition? Well, the first step is done. Have a big player finally give up on the port. It’s time. But what about all the things that are nice about corded headphones? The global standard? The fact that you can contribute to the complete devastation of our planet by buying them cheaply by the pound instead of being a grown adult who can hold on and take care of a quality item? How about their universal integration with every device that wants to put a sound out?

It's not like we don't have other really nice global standards that could power a headphone set. [CC
It’s not like we don’t have other really nice global standards that could power a headphone set. [CC Maurizio Pesce]
But we do have other global standards that can transmit sound signals. We have USB. While I hedge to give Apple too much credit after they threw their lot in with Beats, in this regard they are also showing the way. A dongle is an inelegant example, however, only as a transition out of the 3.5mm port. What if your headphones just had a USB C port on one end and you could plug the cable of choice right into your mobile. The phone has the ability to power some accessories and as long as it’s designed to switch off the charging circuit while it’s at it, there’s no reason it won’t work. We can all transition painlessly. We really won’t miss it.

Laptops could definitely simultaneously charge and play. If your battery is running low, just hook it up to USB. You get the cord experience and the universal standard experience we’ve all come to love. Just without a weird analog connector from the birth of electronics. All the LEGO pieces are there, we just need to build the spaceship.

All that is pedantic though. Portable audio has never been a power-hungry game and in the end I just don’t think people will notice the cable woes. I thought I would and I don’t. I’m already so used to plugging things in when the situation requires that I just do it and that’s that.

It’s time for the 3.5mm legacy to go. I hope others follow Apple’s lead. I hope all the major headphone makers turn their eyes to wireless audio and the possibilities it offers. There are already quality sets out there and it will only get better. I won’t miss it. I don’t miss magnetic hard drives. I don’t miss CDs and Mini Disks. I haven’t tuned the bunny ears on a television in at least a decade. I don’t even own an Ethernet cable nor have I used a DB9 serial cable for hardware development in years. The future moves on and this time I think it will show itself to move in exactly the right direction.

359 thoughts on “Death To The 3.5mm Audio Jack, Long Live Wireless

  1. WOW

    There is a lot to say here.
    This made me add up all my blue-tooth devices. And made me think.
    There is not one blue-tooth device that I have not had problems with.
    Mice could never get those bloody things to work on my PC.
    Keyboards could never get into the bios.
    Dongales over have of them are not worth anything. and I have over 20 of them.
    and at the beginning you had to pay to get the full use of them. I still try to this day to get them to work.
    Audio Battery life stinks, going from blue-tooth to plug in always having to change the lag settings when you want to watch
    something on your phone or computer. Lag is to much when talking on the phone. interference were ever I go there is
    cutting in and out and my phone is not even 2′ away. And it’s not my phone it has happened to all of them.
    And you say wait they will fix the problems…… I’ve been waiting for all most 20 years now. Blue-tooth came out in 1998. How much longer do we have to wait?

    BLUE-TOOTH has to be one of the worst interfaces that has ever come out.

  2. I don’t know man, backward compatibility.

    If Marty’s camcorder had not been able to output RF on channel 3 he would never have been able to convince Doc Brown, and then where would we be?

  3. There’s obviously going to be a market for headphone jacks well into the future. I love my headphone jacks, on my computers, radios, and smartphones. Won’t buy any devices that don’t have it.

  4. The biggest problem I see is the lack of Bluetooth audio gateway/source modules. Almost every Bluetooth audio module out there wants to be a sink i.e. they are to make your own Bluetooth speakers or headphones. What about those of use who want to connect off the shelf Bluetooth headsets etc to our projects? I would welcome suggestions here for suppliers of hobby Bluetooth audio gateway/source modules. Until I can source cheap ones that are easy to work with I guess I will just have to keep putting 3.5mm sockets on my stuff.

  5. the only bad choice about the 3.5 jack was putting mass on the backside, now signal and mass share the backside, and every addidtional signal your plug cannot handle ends up as noise,
    using a 10 ring 3.5mm jack, you could do usb3 without worries about direction too

  6. I’m going to slap a fool if they whine about headphone jack waterproofing reliability issues again.
    Sony has had it mostly problem free since the z1 / Zultra (though they have had loads of problems getting the back covers to seal). I’m sure Samsung has managed the same with theirs on the S7. Waterproofed from the inside. No flap. And my z1 headphone jack still works fine, and is okay with salt water, given I rinse in with freshwater afterwards. Further, this whole article looks like a copy paste from the responses Apple has posted.

  7. Dear Author,

    Congratulations, your article got some of the most number of comments recently (c1ik8@it concept worked)

    1. say that: wireless is great and all that and how we can explore/ exploit it -> great.
    2. Say that: 3.5 mm is pita. has limitations, how it can be been exploited and hacked-> great
    3. Say that 3.5mm is trash because wireless is awesome is not correct. that’s what reality tv crap and juicy news stuff are made of. Not the real hackaday articles (its changing now-a-days).and don’t expect people to agree every thing. this is analog world and there are 1s and 0s with everything in between :)

    as it was mentioned earlier 3.5mm is for kiss (keep it simple s….)

    on the other day, I was speaking with my wife with a BT headset paired to laptop. laptop connect to wifi. I couldn’t hear a thing with all the interference during the conversation. Later, I got an earful, over phone; from wifey.
    After that I never use wireless headphones with anyone; especially my partner. not work the risk ;)


  8. What rubbish. A 3.5mm audio jack is simple, universal, and works very well. The headphones are cheap, and there is *nothing* that can match the audio quality through wires. The first half second that you say “digitize in some format” you lose quality. As soon as you transmit in any form, you lose quality (although to be fair if you transmit as a digital stream, you have already likely lost all of the quality you will lose), but then you have to turn it back to analog at some point, which is a set of oscillating wires around a magnet. Why analog? Because I don’t have a 16 pin connector in the side of my head, I have these flappy things called ears, and they are analog. The wire went right to the last step. No batteries, no charging, no digitizing, transmitting, receiving, and converting back to analog. Sorry your cable was too short, you can buy extensions for earphone jacks at the dollar store (along with spare earphones if you want, since you break them so often… they will cost about a dollar). If you really want to get the same experience other people get but instead of spending the dollar, you can cough up $170 or more, I’m not going to stop you. Have fun with that, but don’t try to tell me its good for me too. Nope.

  9. So I read over the comments and I am surprised that I didn’t see anyone suggest a compromise. BT sucks, it doesn’t work and for the most part is a total failure for all the reasons others have said. Wired totally works but then you get wire fatigue and an open path for water/dirt and pocket fluff.

    For your consideration, why not have an optical link like TOSLINK, not suggesting using TOSLINK, merely an optical connection. This would add the problem of batteries to the speaker/bud/headphone side. you could add 2wire magsafe style connector for power exchange. This would add a digital high speed reliable and sealable connection that would have plenty of capacity for high bandwidth high fidelity audio as well as another way to transmit and receive data for device to device connections. It would be immune to noise issues, you could use inexpensive plastic fiber for short runs and glass if needed for longer/higher bandwidth. On the power side a 2 contact system that didn’t require a penetration would be ideal. Thus you could clip on and off the connector, not have a penetration, if you snag the cable little to no harm. etc.

    LED based fiber systems have got to be cheaper and faster than high speed USB/Lightning links at this point and in the data world single fiber full duplex connections are not uncommon.

    Just my 2 cents

    1. You do not need much more than 20kHz bandwidth for audio. The optical link as you describe combines the worst of both solutions. You need a battery, a DAC, an amplifier in every headphone AND you still have a cable connection to it. Leave DAC and amplifier in the phone, where it belongs, where you have a battery already, make 3 wire magsafe style connector and send L/R audio over it.

  10. The problem, as I see it, is what cord they chose to cut. With this solution where you control the music player from the same unit you connect your headphones to, you will strain the cable each time take the player/control out of the pocket to change the tune (if you run the cable inside your clothes), or you risk having the cable caught on door handles, twigs, or whatever (if you run the cable outside your clothes). So the cable is cut, and replaced with wireless technology, because that is the visible wire, ignoring the fact that the wire transports high density data, in real-time, AND power.

    Consider instead, what if the wire is cut inside the music player? So that you have a single unit consisting of a large battery + storage + dac + amp, sitting happily in your pocket all day, not being taken out until you need to charge it, straining your headphone cable very little, and the wireless connection is actually between this unit, and the remote control, which is a much lower bandwidth connection. Some people may remember hdd based mp3 players, think of something like the iAudio M3, but where the remote control unit is wireless (and where the headphone connector is on the main unit instead of the remote)

    1. …each time YOU take the…

      The second paragraph should probably be rewritten to be more clear. But basically, one unit handling all the power and high speed and density data, and a second unit that is a wirelessly connected remote control.

      Another problem which has been touched on already is of course that on the quest for miniaturization the actual connectors and wires have become flimsier and flimsier.

  11. “When was the last time it was common to hook an Ethernet cable into a laptop?” today, when I came to work… sure, it’s over a dock station, but it’s still 1000base-T…
    “Who would do this when we can get all the bandwidth we want reliably over a wireless connection” – no, simply just…no
    Unless you live in some cave, there’s (and has been around for a while) this thing called gigabit ethernet, comes in both optical and metalic form.
    All of the 802.11 wireless standards fall short of it’s throughput (at least anything you can realistically deploy in a corporate environment) and are nowhere near as reliable as the 4 twisted pairs. There’s also the additional latency.

    In a corporate environment the moment you have something you can call a fileserver and an SSD in the laptop, the difference in speed is absolutely phenomenal.
    Copying a couple of gigabytes of data (like an OS install image with all the user software ready) for SCCM to do it’s magic?
    Takes just a couple of minutes instead of nearly 1/2 an hour on a 100base network. Also good luck doing this at all over wifi.

    A lot of times the cable is simply a better and more sensible solution, “it just works”™

    1. For any fixed installation – like a desktop PC – I also prefer the wired connection. It’s also not only “wire equivalent privacy” (which is not true per se anyway), it is safe from radio eavesdropping, and it’s faster as you write. For a Notebook I am very often happy with a wireless connection, but it’s always good to have more possibilities.

      And the same with audio.

  12. I think that Bluetooth adds a lot of unneeded complexity (and battery drain) to a kind of device that does not need it. Sure I am tired of some times each year having to re-solder the 4 wires to the 3.5 mm connector since the cord and the transition to the connector are made with bad quality but I still have chance of fixing them instead of having to buy an entirely new headset, with Bluetooth good luck in repairing them. Enforcing wireless headphones does not really solve a problem without the risk of lots of new ones.

    I have also experienced problems when trying to listen synchronized from separate devices, the person with the Bluetooth headset had a delay that was really hard to compensate, not everyone needs that but all of us that tried dance walking with non wired headphones knows the problem. ;)

  13. I’m sure someone could arrange for you to actually knob-polish an Apple employee as opposed to doing it via article. That out of the way, why do we need to get rid of features? Have we all grown so tech-complacent that the only way we can be impressed now is when smartphone manufacturers start removing features from new devices? If you have to remove a feature in an effort to make something look “new” you have run clean out of innovation. Why can’t we have wireless headphone capability, usb-audio out/in, annnnd a 3.5mm headphone jack!? Whooaaa watch out ~ wayyy to many features for the average human to handle!?? Oh and let’s drop the “it will make the phone thinner” argument! We don’t need out smartphones thickness to be reduced ANY further! We have hit the smartphone thickness uncanny valley already…let’s put put our grey matter into designing new features not taking them away!

  14. The cheapest Bluetooth headset I’ve bought cost me about $20 from Amazon. They work, battery goes for at least 5 hours, and they fit nicely in a pocket. That said I’ve bought earbuds for under $5 at the dollar store that sound better and fit in my ears better.

    I’m not overly concerned with audio quality on portable gear like my cell phone: expensive headphones get lost, broken, or stolen. Listening to Sennheiser HD 555’s or whatever at home is great but I’m not going to carry them and an amp to work on the bus. My major concern is having something that works I can easily stash in my pocket and can quickly and easily replace. Dollar store 3.5mm headphones are great for that.

    The marginally thicker form factor of a cell phone which includes a headphone jack is a non issue for me. Duct taping a lightning/usb-c to 3.5mm adapter together with a tether to ensure it doesn’t get too far from my phone would probably look incredibly tacky though and negate the thinness achieved by dropping the jack. I’ll do it, but I’d rather not have to.

    Wireless headphones certainly have their place and I’m sure expensive ($100+) ones sound very good but for day to day use cheap analog earbuds fit my life better.

    I’m glad I use Android. If one manufacturer stops making phones with a 3.5mm headphone jack, I can buy from another.

  15. I was disappointed when they switched from 1/4 inch jacks to 3.5mm jacks on headphones, as I have to remember to have one of those converters around when I want to use my B&W P5s on the home audio system. However, I can use my B&W P5s on my HTC 10. AND, they have made the cable replaceable.

    You can prise my B&Ws from my cold, dead ears.

  16. .. and I echo the comments above about ethernet cables.

    1) I have a better chance of moving files at consistently high speeds for backups and streaming movies
    2) I use NFS mounts extensively around the house, and I would rather have file systems mounted over wires
    3) I use VoIP phones (six at the last count) in da house with PoE.

  17. Audio 3.5mm jack is not going anywhere any time soon. The reason? Never having to go into a menu, turn on Bluetooth, oh wait it was already on and I just turned it off, go back to menu, click it on for real this time, wait for it to find your headphones, your car’s headunit shows up but you’re hundreds of feet away from your car so it couldn’t possibly be picking up the actual signal from the car, why aren’t my headphones which are sitting right freaking next to the phone being detected? Oh wait I need to hold the pair button on the headphones, ok now wait for it to scan again, ok there it is, click, pair, waiting.. waiting.. oh and my headphones just died. I need to recharge my fucking headphones. Jesus christ.

  18. “you might be able to hear a perceptible difference from hooking directly to your phone with a Bluetooth headset. But you’re not. You have a noisy connection from a worn out port to a low quality cable with an unamplified signal to some cost engineered headphones. It’s a wash I think.”

    This sounds like guesswork. You shouldn’t need to resort to guesswork. This site is all about trying things out, proving things work or don’t, not guessing that a new technology you haven’t analyzed is “a wash” when compared to an old technology.

    Break out the spectrum analyzer and prove it!

  19. I bootload my AVR micros over a 3.5 mm jack via audio. I also interface to my radio for digital mode encoding in this manner.

    Bluetooth is functionally compatible but is not as simplistic to use. I say it’s time to get rid of it in favor of wires!

  20. Smells like an apple shill article.

    3.5mm jacks JUST WORK, don’t need extra batteries to power the headphones, don’t need configuring or pairing, don’t have bandwidth issues, won’t have any sort of wireless interference issues when there are lots of them in use in close proximity, are significantly cheaper, can be fixed with a soldering iron & perhaps heat shrink tubing or glue.

    This is one ‘reinvention of the wheel’ that many many people just don’t care for.

  21. Wow…I knew APTX (the better version of BT stereo) was terrible having listened to it…but the graph really says it all. I’m pretty amazed someone trying to proclaim death to 3.5 would use such an image.

    Dollar for dollar 3.5 still wins, but 3.5 is also better if money is no object.

    3.5 has the comparability…if you find something that doesn’t have a 3.5 input, it probably has twin rca input or XLR or some other format that can be converted to with a dumb cable.

    Arguments about cords tangling in pockets don’t really work when you are advocating either split sets that you will lose half of in a parking lot when pulling out your keys, or especially for bigger units that don’t even fit in pockets.

    Wired headphones don’t need batteries or charging, and their batteries don’t go bad after a year because they don’t exist. Seriously…I need a new BT headset about once a year and I don’t buy the cheap stuff.

    If you want BT earphones, you can have them and they will work just fine with a phone that has a 3.5 jack; you can even use the new airBuds with an old Android if you want to for some reason. Removing the 3.5 jack just removes an option…one that many people still want for various reasons.

    Arguments about the future are all well and good…but we are talking about now. Sure…maybe in in a couple years there will be a good BT audio standard with good hardware to match, maybe even at a good price. Around the same time you might be able to get a new car with good BT input (or a new head unit). Even a home receiver with good BT input may be available…and that will be all great if you want to spend money on something that gives you no increase in audio quality. Maybe 10-15 years after that such devices will be nearly as common as 3.5 just because of people replacing old, broken stuff…and then it might make sense to dump the 3.5 jack…at least on higher end devices sold to people who are more likely to have new cars, new stereos, etc.

    For now, lack of a 3.5 jack goes on the “deal breaker” list…I don’t care how wonderful a new phone is, if I can’t even use it to listen to music in my car then it isn’t as good as my old one.

    1. My biggest gripe there was no real engineering reason to remove it they did it just to cut one more part from the BOM and sell people new headphones and speaks and I’m not playing their game.

  22. I am not a fan of the 3.5mm headphone jack. The hole in it is an obvious vector for water and contaminants to enter the device, and with the shell of the connector sticking out, it is capable of putting a lot of force on the guts of the jack. In fact, over the years I have learned to plug a short extension cable into the notebook that sits next to my bed so if I roll over at night and rip the headphone cable out of something, I rip it out of the extension. I tape the female end of the extension down so if I yank on my headphone wire, that force is never transferred to the jack on the computer. My old bedside notebook wound up needing a USB audio device because the headphone jack got totally reamed out, before I got smart about using the extensions.

    However I am not a fan of wireless headphones. They require batteries and charging and have a lot more things that can go wrong with them. Plus they are much more expensive. I have taken a lot of time and worked out good custom EQ settings and for what I listen to I get very satisfactory results from one model of earbuds form my local $1 store. And they are small and comfortable to boot. Plus when I roll over once too often and rip the wires out of them I am only out a buck.

    I would love to see an exterior magnetic jack for the headphones. Three little rare earth magnets potted in epoxy with the male and the female looking alike except for the magnets sharing opposing polarities. No holes in the case, and a clean and harmless separation if the pieces should get pulled apart.

    So let’t not ditch wired headphones, let’s ditch the outdated connector!

  23. NOTE: Invest in battery manufacturer stocks..

    @HAD: Sorry I just want to see you delete this a third time.. I guess you could say it’s spam despite there being ZERO back-links and ZERO branding

  24. I own an iphone 6s with wired and wireless headsets, both of which have a good use case. The real problem with Apple doing away with the audio jack this way is that it’s about their convenience, not the user’s; the real revolutionary act is to admit that we, the users, exist to serve the company, and not the other way around.

    I have a waterproof audio player with a 3.5mm jack, and have been swimming/diving with it for years. The idea that 3.5mm jacks can’t be waterproof is a shibboleth, a completely fabricated problem, and doing away with it is a solution for a difficulty that doesn’t exist, except in poorly engineered products.

    The idea that Bluetooth provides higher quality is laughable; reliability is a big problem. Working with RF as I do, I frequently cannot get a good connection because of EMI. Wires never run out of battery; they never suffer from firmware issues. Sometimes, a simple graphite pencil is better than a pen.

    The point is that I should be able to choose what’s best for my needs, and in fact, I do know best. I don’t mind Apple making a product without a jack. I very much mind them incentivizing me to stay within their ecosystem, then taking all jacks out of all products.

  25. @Gerrit Coetzee: Thanks for your nice article. I have to admit that I don’t have a strong opinion on this subject but in most of your arguments I totally agree with you. I don’t understand why most of the readers are so harsh with you. It’s just an opinion and a lot of the arguments used are actually true. Maybe Bluetooth is not the best nowadays, but the audio jack with all its downsides is it neither.
    Keep up the good work and continue writing long and interesting articles!

    1. No. The removal of the connector has no benefit at all, except the reduction of the BOM for the manufacturer and the possibility to sell extra adapters and new BT devices which you would not need otherwise. If you do not like to use the connector, then just don’t use it. It does not hurt. It does not help if the phone is 2ct cheaper to manufacture – the difference will not be passed on to the customer and it does not help, if the phone gets 50µm thinner (calculated with the volume its even less) because you eliminated around 0,25cm³ for the 3,5mm jack.

  26. When Apple omits the port it does not really touch me. I am no Apple fan or even user and they are always a little different. Apple fans buy crippled HW at exaggerated prices, like a notebook with only a single port for power and data (USB-C). I want to use power and data simultanously, without the need for adapters.

    But when Samsung decides to eliminate the port then I will not be their customer any more.
    At the phone I want to be able to use power and music at the same time. And I want to have the option for analog connection to any music amplifier. WITHOUT the need of adapters. Of course I sometimes use BT speakers. But it’s not that you have true wireless freedom. If I have the phone in the pocket, the connection is not very stable. So basically it has to lie 1-2m beside the speaker. The advantage is just that you don’t have to think about taking the cable with you.

    So I definitely want to have both options: wireless and wired.

  27. I’ve never seen an article on HAD where the author argues with the community so much. Why does this author have to post an argumentative followup to so many of people’s opinions?

  28. The port has always just worked… When HDMI, and usb fails for whatever reason (usually copy protection to content I have a legal right to), the analog stuff still just worked. This isn’t so much a move to remove a port but a move to close the analog hole imo.

  29. I highly praise the convenience of wireless. That’s why I got an A2DP module from China and built it into my home speaker’s aux port, a Bluetooth-to-FM bridge to my car, and a tiny A2DP lapel clip to which I can connect any 3.5mm earbuds. However, the ONLY convenience it brings is wireless, along with a ton of inconvenience.

    More often than not, the car thing won’t connect automatically, so I have to pull the phone out of my pocket, go to settings and force it to connect. Damn, if I have to pull it out of my pocket, then I’d rather straight up connect it with a cable. And every time I turn the damn thing on, I’m greeted with unnerving engrish voice “the Bluetooth device is ready to pair / the Bluetooth device has connected successfully”. Also its handsfree profile is useless because the mic is terrible.

    At home, my very powerful set of speakers -to which I’ve added the Bluetooth module- don’t say those engrish messages, but it randomly connects and disconnects with a loud beep. You might imagine how fun it is when it happens during the night. Also, if I decide to disconnect my laptop from it and then connect my phone, it’s much more of a hassle than if I were using a cable: unlock laptop, go to settings, turn off Bluetooth, unlock phone, go to settings and connect Bluetooth – and then I have to repeat the process to connect the laptop back. It takes maybe one or two minutes, while the cable would take 3 seconds. And the BT range is just 10 meters, then I can’t carry my phone on me if I’m walking around the house, so in this regard it’s as bad as using a cable.

    As for the Bluetooth clip, it was yet another device to remember to charge and bring along with me. The battery would last a few hours, then I’d have to use the 3.5mm jack anyway. In a few months the battery died completely and I broke the damn thing trying to open it up. Btw, I’m not a careless person: I’ve had a pair of $3 in-ear chinese earbuds for about ten years (due to some miracle, they sound better than my huge Sennheiser cans).

    I was having reliability issues with my laptop WiFi, so now I’ve resorted to using an Ethernet cable. For those who don’t move around much, it’s leaps and bounds faster and more reliable. Wireless ain’t as convenient as it sounds because it solves a problem creating many others. I’ve never bothered with wireless charging for my phone because using a cable allows me to comfortably use the phone while it’s charging, also it’s faster and generates less heat.

    Also, everytime I’m in charge of playing some music in a friend’s car or in a party, all they have is a standard 3.5mm cable – or maybe I can bring my own cable and leave it there because it was cheap, unlike a BT adapter. Bluetooth pairing is still a hassle that only nerds care about. Having no 3.5mm jack is to me an instant reason to never buy a phone.

    Also your point about having a hole on the phone is moot. Phones will have holes anyway, like speaker grills, mic and USB port. Connection ports should really be sealed internally, which’s not hard to do. If you flood a USB or 3.5mm connector, you can assume it will probably be left intact when the water drains out, so all that’s really necessary is some mandatory waterproofing of all ports to avoid water creeping into the phone through the connector. There have already been waterproof phones and they had those connectors, so they’re not an issue.

    I wish we could stop using wires, I really do. But the hassle of going wireless still isn’t worth it. Moreover, I will NEVER support the extinction of a standard connector which, despite its flaws, has been ubiquitous for decades and just works with every headphone. USB C could be a good alternative, but it’s changed its own connector a few times while 3.5mm stays the same. Also, USB-C headphones would be incompatible with everything but the newest stuff – and don’t come waving silly adapter bricks at me, I’m not an iDiot.

    When ALL Bluetooth devices come with NFC pairing, multiple simultaneous A2DP links, fair pricing, better range and better reliability, you can count on me to adopt Bluetooth even more. But I won’t give up the 3.5mm connector until BT is more reliable and convenient than a good old wire.

    TL;DR: Wireless is convenient, but brings along much more inconveniences than just using a cable. Also, we can still use wireless audio without ditching the 3.5mm jack, so there’s no reason to ditch it.

  30. I’m not going to charge every damn headphone every few hours


    And I’m willing to not buy any product that should have a jack and doesn’t.. So piss off Apple fanboi or giant troll.

    1. Oh and having a headphone hang from an USB or USB-c port is not going to work, those ports are not designed for that and will bend/break and more importantly unplug.itself after using it like that for a week.

  31. No headphone jack = no music in the car. I still have a tape player and the cassette adapter is cheap and quick. Maybe I should switch to FM and hear radio stations over my music or better yet, buy a new head unit that supports BT so it can get stolen. Lets all listen to this iDiot who doesn’t own an ethernet cable…

  32. Microsoft tried to get rid o START menu …. Came back with tail between legs. It’s not about Bluetooth or Wireless being better it’s about letting user to decide. Getting rid of headphones Jack is not same as not supporting Flash in favor of HTML5 which was actually a good thing after all.

  33. QUOTE: “There is no good way to seal or maintain a 3.5mm headphone jack.”


    Did you know that a waterproof military version of the 0.25 inch jack was produced for a certain unnamed Navy? They were designed for outward facing applications connected with divers operating externally to the submarine. I even have about a dozen pieces that were rejected by that Navy’s acceptance process – mainly because of ‘splash’ from the molding process that hadn’t been trimmed properly. They have silver, real silver, contacts, too.

    In later years the same UK company produced both 3.5mm and 2.5mm jacks – although the 3.5mm won out as it was easier to produce.

    I guess waterproof, real 100% immersion 24/7/365 beats out dustproof.

    As for Apple – most of recognise this is yet another chance for them to suck in iSheep to spend yet more money. It’s bad enough having an audio connector at the bottom of a unit, having to do a 180 degree, cable damaging, turn to reach it’s normal operating position – read more replacement sales but Bluetooth?

    Bluetooth is based on two Swedish patents issued around 1989-06-12 and 1992-07-24.

    Running in the 2.4 GHz ISM band, Bluetooth employs frequency hopping techniques, with a hopping rate of 1600 hops per second, with the carrier modulated using Gaussian Frequency Shift Keying (GFSK). Bluetooth channels have 1 MHz spacing, starting at 2 402 MHz and finishing at 2 480 MHz. This can be calculated as 2401 + n, where n varies from 1 to 79.

    Some countries, including France, Japan and Spain, the hop sequence is restricted to only 23 frequencies as the ISM band allocation is narrower.

    The Bluetooth transmitter outputs are low, and there are three different classes of output determined by the anticipated use and the range required.

    Power Class 1 is for longer range communications up to about 100 metre devices, and has a maximum output power of 20 dBm. Power Class 2 is used for what are termed for ‘normal’ range devices of up to about 10 metres, and a maximum output power of 6 dBm. Power Class 3 for short range devices and supports communication up to distances of about 10 centimetres and with a maximum output power of 0 dBm.

    These channels are shared with numerous other devices, including microwave ovens, wireless LANs, etc., which can insensitive to co-users! Little wonder Apple has hassles.

  34. Fucking hell i hate Apple…

    We all know that this is in no way ‘a push towards more wireless’, its just Apple trying to sell they’re shitty made-to-lose-headsets. I’ve been sporting wireless (stereo) headsets for over a decade, but in no way does that mean i dont want 3.5mm audio jacks on my devices, i do, you can always get a basic headset anywhere, thats why you can plug them into any decent device. As a matter of fact, all decent wireless headphones i’ve owned over the years actually have an optional 3.5mm jack, because if there’s anything that sucks, its not being able to listen to music because you didnt charge your headphones overnight, so really, theres no excuse for this other then trying to squeeze the sheeple for more money.

    Im glad Apple is quickly losing marketshare, if that makes me a fanboy (i dont sport Android either tho) so be it. At least other manufacturers aint so eager to blindly follow Apple without thinking for themselves anymore, because that royally fucked up the smartphone landscape over the past 6-8 years.

    Death to Apple, long live the 3.5mm audio jack

  35. The real reason Tim Cook ordered the execution of the 3.5mm jack is that he hates the TRS because it’s shaped like a penis. He won’t let his beloved iPhones be penetrated by anything other than the NSA’s hackers.

    Gerrit/Tim’s argument can be summed up as this:
    Why don’t we just eliminate the vagina and penis as a reproductive mechanism? They can get dirty and wear out, and who the heck likes plugging things into other things? Let’s just use Bluetooth and Lightning connectors, the equivalents of IVF and a turkey baster.

  36. The sad thing is you are showing Apple hardware and touting bluetooth as the savior. The best bluetooth has to offer is apt-X. Which is what that diagram by Serene Audio is comparing. The top left is the original source audio. The bottom left is apt-X. For whatever reason, the cord cutting Apple decides not to support apt-X on their iOS devices. That’s equivalent of forcing a person underwater and telling them the technology exists that allows them to breathe… but then not providing said SCUBA…

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