Apple just killed the headphone jack. Again.
And not only on its own iPhone line, but for competing Android devices as well. Here's how that might happen.
With the arrival of the iPhone Xs and XR, the Cupertino company has eliminated the iPhone SE and the iPhone 6s from its lineup, discontinuing the last two phones with a 3.5mm stereo jack.
Tim Cook and co. also took out the free and widely-hated-but-sorely-needed audio dongle adapter (opens in new tab) from all of its phones. The Apple product pages now state that the Phone 7 (opens in new tab) — Apple’s new entry-level phone — the iPhone 8 (opens in new tab), and the new iPhone XS (opens in new tab) and XR models (opens in new tab) don’t include the free dongle in the box.
Presumably, Apple is looking to save a few cents in each phone and get more money out of you by forcing you to buy the infamous, easily breakable $9 stereo dongle separately.
You can’t blame Apple — the dongle is Apple’s best selling accessory and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this piece of low-quality plastic contraption has a 90% margin.
Moreover, this pushes people to get the $159 AirPods, which are almost magical, yes, but still nowhere near as good as my own Denon cans. AirPods are not even in the same dimension of most analog over-the-ear headphones out there — and many in-ear wired headphones too. Plus, the $159 gadgets are easy to lose. You do the math.
A jack-less future
Even worse, Apple's actions could open the flood gates to a ton of manufacturers doing the same thing, since nearly every single phone maker out there copies the Californian company’s every move.
Sure, Google's Pixel 2 was one of the first Android phone to ditch the 3.5mm back in October 2017, but Google's design choices don’t reverberate across the entire industry.
Apple, on the other hand, sets the tone for almost everyone. From the rounded industrial design language everyone copied from the iPhone 6 and the fingerprint sensor, to the general minimalism and the fugly notch.
The elimination of the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 immediately influenced other manufacturers, like Xiaomi. Huawei, the number 2 manufacturer in the world, also dropped it. There are even guides to “all the phones with headphone jacks you can buy right now.”
Apple completely eliminating any trace of the 3.5mm jack from its phone catalog is just the coup de grâce. It is a signal for every single one of the copycats and followers: it’s ok, let it go, it’s time to kill the headphone jack for good.
Samsung may be the last stronghold for the headphone jack. After following Apple’s lead — to the point of being condemned in court a few times — for a long while, the South Korean company has been trying to differentiate itself with a distinct design in its latest Galaxy phones. Both the Samsung Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy Note 9 kept their analog audio jacks. The company even makes fun of Apple on its commercials for not including one.
Still, I very much doubt that Samsung will be able to keep the 3.5mm audio port for much longer. As the industry moves towards its total destruction, it’s only a matter of time before they capitulate too.