New Dell XPS 13 kills the one thing it shouldn’t — and I’m upset

Dell XPS 13 (2022) on pink background
(Image credit: Dell)

Earlier this month, Dell unveiled two new versions of its popular XPS 13 laptop that are debuting later in 2022. One is a new Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 ultra-thin productivity device with 5G, the other is an even thinner and lighter version the XPS 13 ultraportable.

(Note that neither of these is the new Dell XPS 13 Plus, which sports a more radical redesign that includes ditching the function keys in favor of a capacitive touch bar, a la Apple's Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro 2022. So all told, there's at least three new Dell XPS 13 models debuting this year!)

This is a big deal because the XPS 13 is one of our favorite laptops here at Tom's Guide thanks to its winning combination of power and portability. Sure, it can't match the battery life of the best MacBooks (especially now that those machines are all running on Apple silicon) and the webcam isn't great, but the XPS 13's comfy keyboard, speedy performance and striking good looks (especially if you spring for the 3.5K OLED touchscreen upgrade) make it one of the best laptops you can buy. 

My warm fuzzy feelings for the laptop may diminish a bit once we have a chance to review the new model, which Dell is selling right now for a starting price of $999. The new 2022 Dell XPS 13 (9315) is physically different from last year's model (9310) in a few key ways: it's lighter (2.59 pounds to start, down from 2.64 lbs), it's thinner (0.55 inches thin vs. 0.58 inches on the old model), and it no longer has a headphone jack.

The new Dell XPS 13 looks great, but notice how sparse the port selection is. (Image credit: Dell)

That last change snuck past me when Dell initially announced the laptop, which is also lacking the microSD card reader sported by its predecessor. Luckily Andrew Freedman over at sibling site Tom's Hardware (opens in new tab) noticed and followed up with Dell to find out why the company axed the headphone jack from its latest XPS 13. The answer? It's a casualty of the race for thinner, lighter laptops.

"We were unable to fit a headphone jack within the chassis, based off the aggressive design and portability goals we chartered for XPS 13," a Dell representative told Tom's Hardware via email. "While we strive to make devices that can be disassembled, repaired, refurbished, and ultimately recycled, customer desires for smaller, thinner, more capable devices can make this a difficult task — and in the case of the XPS 13 laptop, the streamlined size reduces material use while increasing efficiency, but limits some repairability."

Dell XPS 13 (2022) shown being used by a woman sitting down in a staged lifestyle shot from Dell

(Image credit: Dell)

Personally, I'm starting to feel like the quest for thinner, lighter devices is becoming too costly to continue. 

It's bad enough the new XPS 13 has ditched the microSD card reader, but that's admittedly a niche port that many people never have cause to use. But the headphone jack?! As my colleague Henry T. Casey noted, even Apple hasn't gone so far as to remove the headphone jack from its new MacBook Air 2022 (which is thinner than the new XPS 13, by the way), and Apple is the company that kicked off this anti-headphone jack trend in the first place.

So if you're frustrated by the lack of a headphone port on your next XPS laptop, know that it's gone because Dell claims laptops are now getting so thin they can't even accommodate a 3.5mm jack. 

Whether that additional thinness is worth it is up to you; personally I'd much rather have the option of plugging in some headphones when it's time for private listening, rather than trusting my music or Google Meet call to my capricious pair of Bluetooth earbuds. I'd rather not tote around a USB dongle all day just for the privilege of plugging in a headset, but with my massive mitts, having an ultra-thin laptop isn't that appealing anyhow. 

And of course many of the best 13-inch laptops on the market still ship with headphone/mic jacks, so you have other options if the new XPS 13 leaves you cold. 

Read next: The XPS 13 Plus OLED is having a problem, with poor glue causing some screens to fall off

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. A lifelong PC builder, he currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice. 

  • chentao
    I never really used the jack port, I plugged the speakers through the docking station. But there's another missing item you didn't mention in your post : no more locking port (Kensington or Nobel).
    A locking port is a must have for me, I stay a lot in hotels and usually keep my laptop running while I am away for a few minutes (breakfast, and so on...). I'll just planned to replace my 2018 XPS 13, but now I'll have to choose the XPS 15 (or change my working habits and lock the laptop away each time I leave the hotel room).
    Reply