The rumored impending death of the 3.5mm audio jack, at least in the smartphone industry, has people worked up into a frenzy. There are some arguments about why ditching it for USB-C would be best; there are ample arguments about why the transition would be a mistake. Some vow to never buy a phone that doesn’t have a 3.5mm jack; others say Bluetooth is the way of the future anyway, so who cares? Intel, it seems, is voting for that rumored USB-C headphones future, and it says there are some why it makes sense.
Assuming all these rumors and speculation proves true, we’ll one day see smartphones that don’t have a 3.5mm audio jack at all, only a USB-C port, which would be used with USB-C headphones for listening to music. Doing so would mean needing to use an adapter for your existing 3.5mm headphones or, alternatively, ditching them and buying a new USB-C pair to replace them.
Both are going to cost money, which is one of the first complaints consumers have. Another is the hassle that will come with charging the device and listening to music at the same time, and, obviously, having a big adapter between your headphones and smartphone makes the slightly thinner smartphone no more appealing.
If you can look past those downsides, though, Intel suggests there are some good reasons to make the transition. Speaking yesterday at the Intel Developer Forum, the company’s Brad Saunders and Rahman Ismail both outlined a USB audio standard that’s currently in the pipeline, paving the way for USB-C headphones that don’t use too much electricity and that have functional in-line controls.
Saunders claims the presence of a 3.5mm audio jack in electronics like smartphones can cause interference issues, plus there’s the oft-cited argument that audio jacks take up space in a phone that, if freed up, could possibly help make phones even thinner. There’s also the argument that switching to USB-C will introduce digital audio and, namely, the possibilities of audio effects included with the phone as premium features.
Of course, USB-C has already made its way to some laptops, tablets, and smartphones…it just hasn’t yet replaced the 3.5mm jack, and if the Internet outcry is anything to go by, people will be up in arms if it does.