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Intel wants to kill the headphone jack, backs USB-C

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headphone jack
The 3.5mm headphone jack

Intel wants to kill off the headphone jack for good, and reckons USB-C should rise in its place.

That’s according to a new proposal that Intel revealed at this months’ IDF Shenzhen developer forum, suggesting the industry “remove[s] the 3.5mm audio jack from audio sources”, as reported by Anandtech.

Audio ports are one of the few remaining analogue ports in modern technology. The 3.5mm jack serves just one single purpose, and that’s not good enough in 2016.

By comparison, USB-C is a digital connection, and is capable of performing multiple functions at once.

Headphones connected via USB-C could, for instance, play music and measure your heart-rate at the same time, feeding that data directly to your phone.

That’s just not possible with the aging 3.5mm jack, a legacy port from the 1960s.

It’s long been rumoured that Apple is already planning to ditch the headphone jack on the iPhone 7. And China’s LeEco (formerly LeTV) has already done just that with its latest smartphone.

Related: Best Android Smartphones 2016

The other advantage of USB-C is that it can also replace your Micro USB port for device charging. This means you need less ports per device. It’s also reversible, just like Apple’s Lightning connector.

Unfortunately, smartphone manufacturers have yet to adopt the technology en masse. However, that uptake is expected to grow quickly as more accessories are built to support the standard.

Would you be sad to see the headphone jack go? And do you own a device with a USB-C connection? Let us know in the comments.

Menorca Man

April 27, 2016, 2:34 pm

OK, so how much will a half decent pair of DAC earbuds cost compared to passive analogue ones?? And what happens if you want to listen to your USB C connected headphones whilst connected to an external battery pack??

mode11

April 27, 2016, 7:31 pm

It would be good if devices could just output analogue audio over a few pins of the USB connector, when they detect headphones present. Then, a simple / short / cheap adapter cable could attach to the end of existing headphones, or a longer version could replace the detachable cable / plug of many others.

Menorca Man

April 28, 2016, 6:53 am

Not very elegant but I agree it's one solution. However, it would require an even more untidy adapter to overcome the "listen whilst connected to power pack" problem. Plus there is still the question about the future cost of new DAC headphones.

MattMe

April 28, 2016, 9:35 am

The cost will be higher for a start, for sure. I reckon adapters to enable old 'phones will be available.
The external battery pack or charger will be an issue, unless we start seeing charger and battery packs that work as USB Hubs, or ever headphones with hubs built into them.
USB 3.1 is fairly flexible like that.

ElectricSheep

April 28, 2016, 9:40 am

No, no,no. This is just change for change's sake and provides no advantages to the consumer. Hands off my headphone jacks!

Mark Stanbrook

April 28, 2016, 10:20 am

A cheap but decent DAC costs around £40 (which means the actual Chip probably costs £1). A high end Audiophile DAC can be as much as £1000. So I'd expect the Digitial versions of current headphones to be double the price.

I was going to say that HiFi manufacturers probably won't remove Analgue jacks for a long time, but maybe they will. Clearly they'll retain analogue signal path for source->amplifier but the headphone jacks could go, in the long run, once people who bought £2000 headphones have a solution that doesn't degrade their experience!

Mark Collins

April 28, 2016, 12:56 pm

Surely the solution is to improve wireless communication? That said I wouldn't want to ditch my Audio-Technica ATH-M50's...still not found anything that can compete without getting a nosebleed looking at the price

Patmanmf

April 29, 2016, 8:18 am

For all you people saying you need too listen to music whilst charging their phones but only have one port? There won't be any charging With a cable. And if it's serious then yeah use the cable but I'd imagine if you're listening to music it's in a good state.

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