Cell Phone Manufacturers Continue Trying to Kill the 3.5mm Headphone Jack

Bryan Hauser

In September 2016, Apple announced that their then-new iPhone 7 would ditch the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, in favor of their Bluetooth AirPods or a Lightning connector adapter. This move was met with both criticism and interest by the general public.

Recently, in September 2017, Google announced that their Pixel 2 phone would follow a similar path, ditching the headphone jack in favor of their own version of the AirPods, the Pixel Buds.

iPhone 7, with bottom visible
The iPhone 7, pictured here, was controversial in its removal of the headphone jack. (Image licensed under Creative Commons 0.)

Google isn't the only manufacturer attempting to drop the headphone jack, however. A number of other major manufacturers have followed in Apple's footsteps, though a number of holdouts remain:

Device Name Headphone Jack?
iPhone 7
Samsung Galaxy S8
Essential Phone
Xiaomi Mi 6
OnePlus 5

Note that these are only a few examples from late last year and early this year, and newer devices similarly have a mix of missing and present headphone jacks.

The Essential Phone was another such device that opted out of including a headphone jack. (Image created by Essential Products, Inc., licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.)

Time will tell if the gamble on removing the headphone jack will pay off for Apple in the long run. iPhone sales showd a small dip in 2016, the same year as the iPhone 7's release. However, whether this is just a random fluke or the start of a consumer trend against the lost feature is unclear.

Year Number of devices sold
2013 150.26
2014 169.22
2015 231.22
2016 211.88

Many users have expressed disdain for this trend, swearing to never purchase a device that fails to include a headphone jack. Users complain about difficulty working with existing audio hardware, expensive proprietary dongles, and a decrease in audio quality. Others have praised the decision, citing the age of the 3.5mm jack standard and the added space for new features in their favorite devices.