Does it make sense to give up the 3.5mm jack?

An old saying it says that the value of a thing is truly understood only when it is lost. Why not apply it to the famous 3.5mm jack?

In particular, we wonder if it has really arrived time to say goodbye And because several companies have already done so.

The headphone jack it was introduced more than 100 years ago in telephone exchanges, then it became the common standard used on practically every device capable of playing audio: Walkman, CD players, iPods and, of course, smartphones.

When buying a new device, its presence was taken for granted, until the end of 2016. In fact, on 7 September it is presented iPhone 7, the first smartphone without a 3.5mm jack. This choice, as well as the subsequent introduction of the notch, did turn up one’s nose to several, but despite this more and more Android smartphone manufacturers have followed in the footsteps of the Cupertino company.

But why?

In answering we can start from an interesting article published by gadgethacks, containing the “Justifications” of the producers who have decided to take this step.

Apple (as well as the manufacturers who emulated it) argued that getting rid of the jack was necessary to produce smartphones thinnerin order to insert a bigger battery, improve the cameramake the smartphone waterproof and offer one best audio quality. Let’s go and examine them all in order.

First of all it should be noted that iPhone 6S and 7 have identical dimensions and the second weighs just 5 grams less than the first, that is a little less than a 20 cent coin.

It must also be said that the battery of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus is larger than that of their direct predecessors (about whose difficulty in obtaining a good autonomy much has been said), but in particular on the 7 Plus it is 15 mAh smaller than that of the 6 Plus.

The camera argument is also weak: removing the jack is not the only solution to get a better quality of our shots: iPhone X has, for example, an excellent sensor, but according to dxomark the S9 one, with 3.5mm input, would be the best ever made.

Plus the removal of the jack it is not essential to guarantee the waterproofing of the smartphone: to name one at random, Samsung’s Galaxy S7 is IP68 and retains the jack, ditto for S8 and S9.

We come now to the audio question. The traditional jack is criticized for the fact that the sound loses quality as a result of the various conversions made.

This is technically true, but as reported by gsmarena, the difference is not perceptible to the human ear:

As I mentioned before, your ears are not compatible with digital audio. Whether it’s 16-bit or 32-bit, MP3 or FLAC, your ears just don’t give a damn. We can only listen to the analog audio after it has been properly amplified. And whether the processing is done on the phone or within your headphones is moot.

You could have high quality 24-bit track on your phone. It could get processed first within the phone and then sent over an analog connector to your headphones. Or it could get sent directly as a digital signal to your headphones and then converted to analog and to your ears.

In the endwhen you decide to do one step closer, the new choice should be indisputably better than the previous one. The analogy with the passage dto floppies to CDs, for example, it is not fair. The CD, at the time of the floppy disposal, was already widely used, guaranteed extremely higher read and write speeds, had a much greater capacity, was available in a single format and was much less fragile.

The alternatives to the jack, on the other hand, still leave several perplexities, especially in terms of practicality.

Headphones with Type-C or Lightning input I’m still pretty difficult to find and not particularly cheap. In case of emergency it is not always possible to slip into a household goods store and take a pair of 2/3/4/5 € to keep us company during the day if ours should have suddenly abandoned us. True, you can always buy an adapter. However, this should also include the entrance for charging the smartphone and would become particularly uncomfortable and unsightly to see. Also, once connected, it will be up to it to process the sound, so if it were not of quality it would ruin the listening experience even by connecting excellent headphones.

Bluetooth chapter: it might be a viable alternative, but we are not there yet. The technology in question has yet to contend with problems sudden disconnection and there is no shortage of cases of massifs battery drain during its use. The bluetooth headphones are then more expensive traditional and need to be periodically recharged.

We are already bound to several technological leashes: we have to charge smartphones, laptops, tablets, power banks, in some cases even cigarettes every day. Is this further addition really necessary? Finally, let’s think about ours for a moment Automobiles. Most of us are more likely to own a car with AUX input rather than a bluetooth system.

In conclusion, so, the 3.5mm jack is universal, practical and free of constraints, in short, plug and playAnd there seems to be no solid reason for its elimination. Or better, there would be one, favorable However only in the pockets of producers who choose to do without it: each of them has in fact its own model of wireless or Type-C / Lightning earphones, sold not exactly at the sale price.

Therefore speaking as an end user, my wish is that this technology it is not totally abandoned, at least until it can be worthily replaced. And this could also be convenient for the various manufacturing companies: as we wrote last week, in the current smartphone market, innovations are hiding and perhaps go against the grainkeeping some “obsolete” elements but still considered useful by a large number of people, it could be a viable way to gnaw market share from competitors.