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Android Iphone Hardware

Phones Without Headphone Jacks Are Here... and They're Extremely Annoying (mashable.com) 536

A few weeks ago, we had an intense discussion on what would happen if Apple's next iPhone doesn't have a headphone port -- and what that means for the rest of the industry, as well as the pros and cons of ditching the legacy port. Over the past few months, we have seen many smartphone manufacturers launch new handsets that don't have a headphone jack. Mashable has a report today in which it says that it is already causing frustration among users. From the article: In the Android camp, phones like Lenovo's Moto Z and Moto Z Force and China's LeEco have already scrapped the 3.5mm headphone jack; to listen to music on the company's three latest phones, users need to plug in USB Type-C headphones, go wireless, or use a dongle. I'm all for letting go of old technologies to push forward, but what is happening is actually going to make things worse. The headphone jack has worked for 50 years and it can work for another 50 more because it's universal. Headphones I plug into my iPhone work in an Android phone, in a BlackBerry, in my computer, in my PS4 controller, in my tablet, in any speaker with audio-out, and so on. I can walk into any electronics store and pick up a pair of headphones and not have to worry about compatibility with any of my devices. I know it'll work. [...] With a universal headphone jack, I never have to worry whether or not the crappy pack-in iPhone EarPods I have will work with the Android phone I'm reviewing or not. I also never have to worry if I'll be able to plug my headphones into a friend's phone to listen to some new song. Same applies for when I want to use my earbuds and headphones with another person's device. And there lies the real issue. I will need different dongles -- a Lightning-to-headphone-jack and a USB-Type-C-to-headphone-jack to be prepared because I do carry both iPhone and Android phone on me daily. Dongles also get lost.
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Phones Without Headphone Jacks Are Here... and They're Extremely Annoying

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  • by pz ( 113803 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @09:41PM (#52568483) Journal

    It's simple, really. New is not necessarily better. Change for the sake of change is rarely beneficial to the end user.

    But, unfortunately for the public, neither observation helps sell more widgets. Rather quite the opposite.

  • Needs a refresh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rfengr ( 910026 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @09:42PM (#52568487)
    Yeah, but in 3.5 mm there is mono, stereo, passive microphone, active microphone, non-standard inline controls, impedance sensing, FM antenna. So 3.5 mm is far from standard.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm also a strong supporter of sticking with something universal and that works well. There was no need to start removing this jack from phones except so they could be thinner. However phones are so thin know most people put a phone phone directly into a case to protect it from it being flung across the room because it is so small it's difficult to hold.

    I'm happy my OnePlus 3 still has a jack and I'm hoping the upcoming Nexus Sailfish and Marlin also include the Jack.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I'm also a strong supporter of sticking with something universal and that works well.

      What's this useless "USB" Apple is mandating on all the iMacs?! Stick with ADB and the Printer/Modem ports. It's been Universal on Mac's since the beginning!

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @09:44PM (#52568493)
    The media content industry wants to get rid of all analogue output jacks because an analogue jack cannot be locked down.

    .
    The media content industry has already done away with analogue video output jacks. Now they are focusing on audio.

    • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

      USB Type-C allows for analog out to a pair of dumb headphones. You can either connect a pair of native Type-C dumb headphones (dumbphones?) or a 3.5mm set of dumbphones to a $3 adapter.
       
      There will also be digital headphones and powered dumphones, but USB Type-C can totally be used to pass an analog signal from inside the phone, directly to a tiny set of speakers strapped to your head. There's no DRM in analog audio signals.

    • The one good critism is DRM. Right now I can't watch movies on my desktop because my monitor is not HDMI. Which means content providers can block the headphones as well when the jack goes away.

      Which I think it will. I see more kids using Bluetooth headphones. Think in a few year all the cool kids will use these. I wonder if you can pair multiple headphones to the same device?

    • Wasn't this the big bugaboo of Windows Vista? I'm also curious how you think the media industries will re-introduce DRM in the billions of DRM-free songs that all the major online stores have already sold and are still selling.

      No, I'm pretty sure this is just about space savings and a minimalistic design fetish. Not everything is a conspiracy, and we already won the DRM war for audio.

      • Basically what happened is one "security researcher" who wasn't that good at the "research" part of his job upgraded a system to Vista and had audio issues. He then wrote a blog piece about how Vista sucked and theorized that it was DRM causing issues. This got echo-chambered over the Internet tons and because "Vista's DRM won't let you have good audio."

        It amused me since, when I read it, I had Cakewalk Sonar loaded in the background and was working with pro audio at the time, in Vista, no issues at all.

        Wha

  • Doesn't anyone remember the G4 cube? I do. Maybe the current crop of Apple execs and designers don't - or they just really don't want to - but it also was released with no headphone/speaker jack. While that was not the sole reason for its failure, it was a contributing part.

    The G4 cube was cute - similar to how the SGI O2 (the "toaster") was cute, but cute did not equate to functionality.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Crashmarik ( 635988 )

      Can anything Apple does in the PC arena be called a "Success" ? They have about 7% of the PC market. and as it stands Chromebooks are outselling macs.

      • I guess that depends on how you define that arena. I credit Apple with killing the floppy drive (arguably not just the 3.5 with the Imac but also the 5.25 with the original Mac) and leading the way towards killing the optical drive as well. They were also a big developer for CUPS.

        Yeah, their market share is slim, but their followers are astonishingly devout. Even though the hardware is no longer unique you still have a better chance of converting a windows person to mac than the other way around.
        • I was a mac person. Mac II, MacII FX. They hardly killed the 5.25 inch drive. You might as well say the original PC killed the 8inch disk. It's always been a battle of price point issues vs usability issues.

          When the Iomega Zip disk came out it was easy to see that existing magnetic media wasn't meeting the need. Optical is still hitting a good price performance spot, that may go but not because anything apple does. Just shifting of costs in flash and hard drives. You can get external HDs for roughly 25$/ter

  • Poor Arguements (Score:3, Insightful)

    by skam240 ( 789197 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @09:58PM (#52568533)

    While I'm not thrilled at seeing the headphone jack disapear the author's reasons for keeping it apply to maybe .001 of the population. How many people really have a reason to carry both an iphone and a droid on them? Using my headphones on some one else's phone? How often does THAT come up for a normal person?

  • by LVSlushdat ( 854194 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @10:00PM (#52568541)

    What needs to happen but NEVER will, is people need to STOP BUYING products that do asinine stuff like this.. I guar-on-teeee if NOBODY bought these phones and raised a stink with the manufacturer of said phones, you'd get some action.. Not from the "raising a stink" but from the NOT BUYING....

    • by forgottenusername ( 1495209 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @10:24PM (#52568643)

      I agree 100%, but the fanboy "must have the newest version for prestige" types don't care. In fact, the more exclusionary the better for them. Totally absurd.

    • by Improv ( 2467 )

      Do you expect those of us who have been bluetooth-only to go along with this?

      I get the DRM reasoning. It makes sense to be worried about that. But I also don't like how physical connectors tend to break. I used to go through a headset every month because I'm pretty rough on devices; the cables always broke. Some years ago I switched to bluetooth headphones and that problem stopped. Entirely. I need to make sure I keep them charged, but it's well worth that hassle.

      What this means is for my current and previo

    • It's almost as though market incentives fail as a vehicle for democratic citizenship, or something.

  • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @10:01PM (#52568547) Journal

    That's exactly the problem. The companies want proprietary. Hell, this goes back the earliest Macs, with their unique mouse, keyboard, and printer ports, and their scuzzy drive connectors... I can understand the reasons, but it's one of those things held them back in market share. Imagine, with their unquestionably superior software and CPUs of the time, how much they would completely dominate if they just opened the tent a little bit to let others play.

    And where would the PC be if IBM's bios wasn't pried open? Too bad the same ruling didn't apply to Apple

    • FWIW, IBM actually PUBLISHED the SOURCE CODE for their IBM PC BIOS in an actual book!

      Among the service documentation you could buy for the model 5150 was an IBM blue binder manual that had actual scans of MX-80 printouts of the BIOS in 7-dot matrix
      print as well as the actual schematics of everything in the 5150 except the Power Supply, which they bought OEM from Astec at the time.

      You had to buy the SAMS 3rd-party manual for the PC if you wanted power supply schematics.

      • FWIW, IBM actually PUBLISHED the SOURCE CODE for their IBM PC BIOS in an actual book!

        And then, a neat trick [wikipedia.org]. I really can't see how that passed muster, but then, who am I...

  • by BenJeremy ( 181303 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @10:02PM (#52568553)

    Bluetooth works fine, for my over-the-ear headphones AND vehicle.

    Now I'm just hoping Apple gives me decent wireless charging and consistent connectivity to iTunes without having to plug in (this functionality seems spotty, at best)

    • by khchung ( 462899 )

      I was going to post exactly the same thing.

      After I bought a set of good BT headset last year, I plugged my phone's jack with a plastic dust plug, and haven't pulled it out since.

  • Smartphone size? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theurge14 ( 820596 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @10:22PM (#52568637)

    Phones are the size of mini-tablets these days and you're telling me there is no more room for a headphone jack?

    • by CanadianMacFan ( 1900244 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @10:41PM (#52568705)

      It's due to their quest to get the phones ever thinner. The headphone jack is the thickest element left. By getting rid of that then the smartphone manufacturers can make the phones even thinner.

      Not that there's a huge demand for that as I think most people would prefer to keep the same thinness, or even add a bit of thickness, in order to add a bit more battery and not have to charge the device as often. Or they could add some more sensors to the phone or give it some other capabilities if there was a larger battery. Get back to innovating instead of concentrating on making it thinner.

      • I hear this argument a lot, but I don't really buy it. Iterations of the iPod Touch have generally been significantly thinner than their iPhone counterparts, yet they've managed to keep including a headphone jack on those.

  • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @10:35PM (#52568687)

    The headphone jack has worked for 50 years and it can work for another 50 more because it's universal. Headphones I plug into my iPhone work in an Android phone, in a BlackBerry, in my computer, in my PS4 controller, in my tablet, in any speaker with audio-out, and so on.

    This is the problem with your analog headphone jack -- there's no vendor lock-in possible! This grievous error must be stopped.

    Apple almost had this going on with the original iPhone, they just sank the jack down a couple millimeters into the phone so most headphones couldn't plug in properly because their plug was too large. But soon headphone makers started slimming down the plug diameter, and those crafty Chinese made little dongles for existing phones to connect. And what could Apple do? They couldn't copyright a certain diameter hole. But now, oh, but now... we have digital audio transmission possible and decoding chips so small they can literally be inside the headphones themselves, or even just the plug you hook into the device. So now we can just encrypt everything and make headphone producers pay the device manufacturer for a license to be allowed to make third-party accessories. Apple can make money without lifting a finger now. And you wont be able to use your nice $300 earphones your got for your android device or laptop on your iPhone as well. No, now your get to buy two pairs of headphones for twice the price instead.

    Seriously, though. I can't wait to hear how Apple spins this as being a good thing at the next iPhone announcement in a few months here.

    • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @11:27PM (#52568841)

      You are apparently unaware that, to date, the only phones which have shipped without headphone jacks are Android phones...

      • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Sunday July 24, 2016 @02:03AM (#52569311)

        You are apparently unaware that, to date, the only phones which have shipped without headphone jacks are Android phones...

        No, I'm very aware of that -- it's kinda the point of TFA. There are already devices with this design decision, and there seems to be no positive in it (for the consumer), it just saves the manufacturer a few cents a unit and makes locking music playback down easier. All the ways people could listen to music on their phone without using the 3.5mm headphone jack were available before the change, so removing the port only stands to remove that other option for the user. It adds zilch to the customer experience.

        The issue here is, unlike the Android platform, the customer can't just say "Well, if Apple is going to get rid of the headphone jack on the next iPhone, I'll just get another manufacturer's iOS smartphone". That's why this is a bigger deal.

  • It can be fine... (Score:3, Informative)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @10:39PM (#52568703) Homepage Journal

    ...but they need to create a standard for the replacement jack first. And no, Bluetooth is not it.

    I don't think the 3.5mm jack is actually a panacea. It's limited to a single stereo output, and numerous incompatible hacks have been grafted on to allow it be used for microphone input and for phone or music controls.

    But you can't just get rid of it without an adequate replacement at the ready, with cheap adapters available that you can easily just slot onto the end of a 3.5mm jack.

  • You could do something like tape the adapter to the headphones, or just leave it on the headphones (like 6.5mm to 3.5mm adapters)

    Most earbuds are terrible crap that's physically broken anyway.

    For some other pressing need you might have a 3m or 5m long cable with a jack on one end and a USB C on one end (or a 40m long one and if it's broken on one end, cut it)

    3-way jack (stereo + microphone) are even sillier, I don't want to know about them.

    Other way around : leave a female USB C to male jack adapter on a fe

  • by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @10:47PM (#52568727)
    expect to buy one in the next couple months (OK, I'm not all that serious about it yet). The 2 things I demand are a regular headphone jack, and an SDCC card slot. If a phone has both of those I go on to look at other features.

    Using the headphone jack I can plug my phone into my stereo system and listen to MP3s. Granted, it's not top quality. But it's better than earbud, and definitely better than nothing. My stereo has neither USB nor bluetooth, and damned if I'm gonna buy a new stereo with my new phone.
  • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Sunday July 24, 2016 @12:21AM (#52569031)
    If you play sound through bluetooth does the audio quality even come from the phone itself? Or are you depending on some headphone that is now a headphone with a battery and a low power soundcard fit in?
  • I get the anxiety over a change like this. There will be some pain involved in the transition, particularly if you have an analog headset you like. However, as USB-C audio gains traction it will work well.

    Standards will mature so that any headset will work with any phone, car, computer, etc. Power consumption will come down. DRM won't be enforced in the headset. Charge through connectors will become common. In other words, as the market grows, things that piss people off will get fixed.

    At the same time, mor

  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Sunday July 24, 2016 @02:05AM (#52569315) Journal

    The headphone jack has worked for 50 years and it can work for another 50 more because it's universal.

    50 years ago, most everyone's headphone jacks were 1/4" (6.35mm), and only monaural. They introduced 3.5mm (still mono) way back when, but almost nobody was using them until much more recently. When stereo was needed, two 3.5mm jacks/pins were used side-by-side. It was only more recently that 3-connector stereo jacks were introduced.

    They also shrunk it again to 2.5mm, which was popular on dumb phones and 2-way radios, but that one didn't catch on too well. But you can just as easily say that sub-mini plug has been around for decades, so we should all be happy to use that...

    And they added a 4th conductor, most often for video (but possibly for a microphone), but nobody agreed to a standard so the wiring is always incompatible between devices, and that didn't catch on very well, either.

  • Perhaps the Peter principle applies to bad ideas, as well as people. Perhaps a 'headphone-ports considered harmful' meme has arisen to its level of incompetence within Motorola. And it attempts to propagate itself every decade or so...

    In 2006, I remember being bugged that my Motorola SLVR required a special USB headphone jack. Plus, you couldn't charge the phone and use the headset at the same time (say, for listening to music). Other people thought so too... from this phone's top rated Amazon review :
    "CONS... No dedicated headphone jack ( form over function compromise)" [amazon.com]

    So the idea failed and Moto went back to headphone jacks.

    Now its 2016. Bluetooth and Apple seem to have encouraged this meme to reemerge at Motorola. So we now have ... the Moto Z Force, with its innovative USB headphone port. And it appears you cannot charge the phone and use the headset at the same time. [androidpolice.com].

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