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Intel says USB-C advantages could make dropping the headphone jack worthwhile

By midian182 · 41 replies
Aug 18, 2016
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  1. You’ve no doubt heard the widely believed rumor that Apple will drop the 3.5mm headphone jack in its next iPhone. With Android devices such as the Moto Z already having abandoned the audio port, people are angry at companies trying to phase out the old standard - but Intel says its removal could be a good thing.

    Back in April, the chipmaker spoke about how it wants to replace the 3.5mm jack with USB Type-C. And at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco earlier this week, Intel architects Brad Saunders and Rahman Ismail discussed the upcoming new USB-C audio standard, reports CNET.

    Sanders said that one of the main benefits of removing the jack is the space it will free up inside phones, allowing them to become slimmer. Additionally, the analog circuitry it uses can interfere with other electronics inside a device.

    The use of digital audio could allow sound-processing options usually only available with expensive headphones, such as noise canceling, “concert hall” reverb, and bass boosting. "All of those come into play if audio is in a digital domain," Saunders said.

    The effect replacing the 3.5mm jack will have on battery life has been a concern. But the revised specifications for USB-C support power management capabilities that allow it to disable features that aren’t in use, such as the microphone; this means "the difference in battery life is negligible."

    The updated spec will also be able to handle video. Ismail said that while it’s not an HDMI replacement and won’t be suitable for gaming, "it's good enough to do productivity work or watch movies.” As it supports multiple connections, you can use a USB hub to plug several devices into a single USB-C port, and the updated standard includes device authentication to improve security.

    The combination of features “will really make USB Type-C the right connector for audio,” said Saunders.

    Permalink to story.

  2. alabama man

    alabama man TS Guru Posts: 563   +355

    I like headphone jack, it's easier to connect to my sampler. I get that most people don't need analog as they don't wan't to connect everything to everything but for someone who makes music this sounds bad. As long as it's just cellphones it wont matter much but when it spreads to other devices Ill be sad.
  3. Invizibleyez

    Invizibleyez TS Enthusiast Posts: 73   +20

    I was thinking about this and at first I wanted to hate it. "Don't get rid of analog" I thought. I realized that this will likely only exist on devices that are already digital, and only convert to analog. If we must convert from digital to analog at some point, why not do it externally? This way our devices can lose the need to do it, and we can control the quality of our digital to analog converters? I think I just sold myself on losing the analog headphone jack...
  4. Dear TechSpot, after seeing that you have given a score of 79 to Moto Z (which is without the headphone jack) I have come to the conclusion that I can no longer trust your reviews.
    A phone that is missing a critical part of what makes a phone worthwhile to have, should earn a really low score.

    All of you must have already forgotten the real struggle of having only a single port and it being proprietary at that! If this becomes the norm, than forget about having quality headphones.

    There's more to say, but I'll stop here.
  5. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,469   +1,254

    It's the USB standard, not really proprietary as all phones will be using the same port.

    As per what @Invizibleyez said, This just means we can control the DAC AND Headphone quality. If anything, this increases overall quality not hinder it.

    Phones get smaller, less ports means better waterproofing.
    Progression my friend :)

    On the down sides you'd have to buy new headphones which you'd have to do at some point in your life anyway. In the mean time I'd place plenty of money they will have adapters which probably come in the box at first.
    Capaill and Skidmarksdeluxe like this.
  6. Bigtruckseries

    Bigtruckseries TS Evangelist Posts: 583   +322

    The 3.5mm Headphone Jack is ubiquitous. It provides "adequate" stereo sound and works with various accessories such as my Rambler Credit Card scanner for my business.

    When they attempted to change - years ago - to the 2.5mm jack to make the port smaller, it was a failure.

    The 3.5mm is a better overall size for sturdiness I'd say.

    I personally use Bluetooth headphones with my iPhone when I exercise but even my LG Tone Pro don't have a solid connection even when the phone's in my pocket. the signal, for whatever reason fades at short distance.

    On airplanes, I prefer the 3.5mm jack because wire length isn't an issue.

    I'll be buying an iPhone 7 Pro 256GB simply to have the 4K camera with the ability to store 8 hours of 4K video. My Youtube is earning over $2000 a month and I WANT MORE. iPhone's camera with iMovie is fabulous.
    GreenNova343 likes this.
  7. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,401   +968

    The biggest problem I have with removing the headphone jack is the part where they don't replace it with anything. What I mean by that is they aren't putting another usb-c there, they're just keeping the main one (which means listening to music and charging the phone either can't be done, or requires an adapter).

    So, either whoever thinks this is a good idea is stupid for not thinking of music listeners, or they are already thinking of an accessory to "fix" that (and not for cheap).
    Either way, these changes are not getting my money.
  8. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 1,844   +1,351

    How am I supposed to charge and listen to music at the same time?

    Btw why isn't TS banning this ***** who advertises his **** on every topic?
    GreenNova343 and MonsterZero like this.
  9. risc32

    risc32 TS Addict Posts: 209   +96

    What to give something a shorter lifespan? Put dome digital guts in it. This is a bad idea in so many ways, but the ignorant won't mind one bit. Progress..?
  10. MonsterZero

    MonsterZero TS Evangelist Posts: 546   +297

    Most analog headphones have a microphone so you can answer calls while listening to music, so battery life will absolutely become a problem.
  11. MonsterZero

    MonsterZero TS Evangelist Posts: 546   +297

    Galaxy Note7 already has 4k video and its already been released unlike the iphone...
  12. BSim500

    BSim500 TS Evangelist Posts: 601   +1,205

    Phones are already more than slim enough. What I want is a THICKER phone with more battery life and increased ruggedness vs drops. The only thing a wafer thin phone without universal standard 3.5" socket does is get crossed off my shortlist.
  13. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,758   +1,149

    I have forgotten already about the jack already, I've been using stereo BT headsets for the last 3 years, recently I bought a cheap brand that had awesome reviews called Soundpeats (bt v4.1) for $25 and they are really as awesome as the reviews said, before this had a Moto bt (v2.1) headset and after that one the Sony SBH20 (v3 which synced perfectly for movies and series).

    I'm not going back to wired anytime soon if I can help it.
  14. Skyyy

    Skyyy TS Enthusiast Posts: 28   +8

    Another concern I have about using USB for audio is the fact that the connector can get bent (assuming it's somewhat like mini USB - I haven't used it yet). I don't see myself carrying this around in my pocket with headphones plugged into the USB port.
  15. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Posts: 8,196   +1,257

    Hmmm, but we haven't reviewed the Moto Z.

    @Nobina... what??
  16. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,469   +1,254

    He's referring to Bigtruckseries.

    He's just a massive iPhone advert along with his seemingly ridiculous YouTube channel he mentions every single post...

    Just checked and a USB-C to 3.5mm adaptor comes in the box. Haven't checked about charging at the same time though.
    Darth Shiv likes this.
  17. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Posts: 8,196   +1,257

    @RustyTech Yes, the Product Finder and all metascores are not from our own reviews but aggregated from around the web, that's by design and to complement our own in-house reviews which are on a separate section.

    As for that YouTuber... looking into it now.
    Phr3d, Burty117 and Darth Shiv like this.
  18. Invizibleyez

    Invizibleyez TS Enthusiast Posts: 73   +20

    For all those concerned about the adapter, there are already some adapters available for under $2 with most being around $5. As far as charging while you listen, I haven't seen that yet. Maybe you can setup a USB hub to cover that. I personally don't ever really do that. I will just get a Bluetooth headset or just use a Bluetooth adapter and plug it in to the same power source just in case I ever want to do that.
  19. Invizibleyez

    Invizibleyez TS Enthusiast Posts: 73   +20

    Look up what USB stands for. It's the exact opposite of proprietary. I'll save you the trouble. The U stands for Universal.
  20. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,952   +575

    The reason not to move it externally would be because of the quality of your DAC. Would they be able to put decent DACs in earbuds? In larger headsets, that does sound more viable particularly for PCs or tablets which would have better power to drive USB connected devices.
  21. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,952   +575

    Yeah true... that would suck a bit but thinking wireless audio for phones is more practical. And hoping it isn't too long before wireless charging is ubiquitous. Charging pads everywhere.
  22. Musician

    Musician TS Enthusiast Posts: 38   +22

    I love the 3.5mm standard. My headphones from the past 20 years (and moving forward) are supported.

    It's all about money. If everyone continues on the 3.5mm jack, they can't sell you something new every now and then.

    Vote with your money, guys.
  23. Invizibleyez

    Invizibleyez TS Enthusiast Posts: 73   +20

    I wouldn't imagine the DAC would be in the earbuds, but maybe at the plug or somewhere in line. Of course, as you said, there is plenty of room in headphones.
  24. Invizibleyez

    Invizibleyez TS Enthusiast Posts: 73   +20

    See above. A quick search on Amazon came up with a USB type C to 3.5mm adapter for less than $2. I can barely get anything for that cheap, and it's not even a widely needed product yet. So... Yes. Vote with your $2.

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