Google says the Pixel 3a has a headphone jack because it gives consumers “flexibility for audio quality”
Google projects the Pixel 3a as an affordable premium smartphone that borrows a lot from its more powerful sibling – the Pixel 3 – in terms of the camera’s performance. There are several trade-offs in this bargain but the Pixel 3a gets one feature that the Pixel 3 does not have and that is the 3.5mm headphone jack. Google says that the reason behind this design decision is to add more flexibility for users and give them the option to use older accessories with the Pixel 3a.
After a year of trolling Apple for removing the headphone jack from the iPhone 7, Google followed the same route with the Pixel 2. There’s distinctly no chance of it returning to the flagship lineup but the future members of the Pixel a-series might carry it. This is because Google prefers to give users (in this segment) the choice between the headphone jack and the USB-C port for audio.
In an interview, Google’s Product Manager Soniya Jobanputra said that consumers spending nearly as much as they are spending on the Pixel 3a (the sub-$500 segment) demand flexibility from their smartphones. She said that even though digital means of audio playback, including Bluetooth and USB-C, are considered the “ultimate” means of consuming audio by the company, a lot of users still wish to utilize their existing headphones or other wired audio accessories, and this is what has inspired the company to retain 3.5mm input on the Pixel 3a.
Our take: In my opinion, Google may have just added a USB-C dongle for headphones in the Pixel 3a box – just like the Pixel 3 – but that may have not created the same buzz, after all. It might have also added to the costs. But more importantly, not bringing the headphone jack back would have given one less point to talk about the Pixel 3a, since price and the camera are the only other appealing aspects on the smartphone. Google does agree that the Pixel 3a lacks in terms of the processing power but hates to admit that this is not a premium device – although we don’t believe that it’s a bad phone, in any way.
If you’re intrigued by the Google Pixel 3a, primarily because of the camera and the price – or maybe, even the headphone jack, you might want to check out what our own Daniel Marchena has to say about the smartphone and why it is a new smartphone, even though it seems familiar (or dated) at the first look.