Google Employee Explains Why They Ditched the 3.5mm Headphone Jack on the Pixel 2 (USB-C Audio, Bezels)

Google Employee Explains Why They Ditched the 3.5mm Headphone Jack on the Pixel 2 (USB-C Audio, Bezels)

When Google launched their first in-house smartphone last year, the company went out of its way to point out that they were keeping the headphone jack in place while their main competition had removed it. This sparked a debate throughout the community and it made fans of the hardware think that Google was on their side, and in it for the long haul. However, it looks like Google has changed its mind with their 2017 smartphones as both the Pixel 2 as well as the Pixel 2 XL have both abandoned the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Ever since Apple and multiple Android OEMs have decided to ditch the audio jack on their phones, it’s created a major divide within the community. Some of us simply do not mind the transition as we’ve already moved onto Bluetooth and other wireless technology for our listening enjoyment. Still, there are a lot of people out there who have stood their ground and vow to never buy a smartphone if it does not have the desired 3.5mm headphone jack. The port has become ubiquitous and many users have invested in high-quality headphones or earbuds, and they rather not use a dongle or other alternatives.

Of course, both sides of the debate have an opportunity to vote with their wallet and over time the market will go one way or the other. For now though, the transition is making a lot of people upset and a Google employee has released their reason as to why they have ditch the aging technology. Orrin from Google says the Pixel 2 still has a headphone jack, just not a 3.5mm one. The company is looking at the USB Type-C connector as the device’s new headphone jack.

Since this new port is “becoming commonplace in the best phones and laptops,” the company has decided to go all in on the newer technology. Their decision was based on it allowing them to “provide a better audio and digital experience” as smartphone designs are shifting to a bezel-less future. Google realizes that this transition will not be perfect for everyone, but they feel that looking to the future will help them succeed while not being left behind by the competition.

This will likely not be an answer that advocates of the 3.5mm headphone jack are wanting to hear (as it’s been said time and time again already), but it is the decision that Google has made. Customers will still need to vote with their wallet and/or voice their concerns online and to these companies if they wish to change or support this trend. While 2016 was the year for improved smartphone camera quality and 2017 has been trending toward the year of the disappearing bezels. If companies really do get rid of the bezel entirely, they will might need to make the device thicker (which we know that isn’t happening).

But there are some glaring issues with the statement provided to us. First of all,¬†while USB Type C is becoming commonplace in the best phones and laptops, the 3.5mm headphone jack is not being left behind by them. Most (and close to all) laptops still feature a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a significant number of today’s best phones still feature such port too. In fact, we can’t really determine which “best” phones Google is talking about don’t feature a 3.5mm headphone jack, besides the iPhone. While HTC and Moto are producing decent phones, Samsung and LG are consistently putting out the more-advanced and better-selling Android devices… and all of their 2017 flagships still feature the 3.5mm headphone jack. In fact, the LG V30 makes it a staple feature by including powerful DACs and advertising audiophile music playback.

Then there’s the claim that they’ve made this decision “as we move towards a bezel-less future”. It’s actually quite difficult for us to place Google phones into this “bezel-less” category right now — it’s not that we don’t love their new phones’ designs, but that they simply feature measurably wider bezels than their competitors. The Pixel 2, in particular, thoroughly contradicts the notion that Google is “moving towards a bezel-less future”, and also that killing off the 3.5mm headphone jack was in any way necessary to advance their current¬†design goals. It has a similar frame than the Galaxy S8, for example, but features comically large bezels, a smaller battery, and it also lacks storage expandability and proper water and dust resistance. Tear downs will reveal just what Google is doing with all that space, but Samsung demonstrates that you can, in fact, maximize screen-to-body ratio while offering a headphone jack (at least at this point in time).

As the technology improves, hopefully Bluetooth headphones will be able to go days to weeks without needing a charge and that will ease the transition for those who enjoy the 3.5mm headphones because they need to be charged. We should also see the price go down as the competition of Bluetooth headphones goes up and that will help ease the transition for those who prefer affordable headphones without giving up audio quality. But until then, the 3.5mm headphone jack will remain a debated topic.

Source: Google Support

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