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Microsoft receives patent to protect the headphone jack

By Greg S ยท 41 replies
Oct 30, 2017
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  1. As the 3.5mm headphone jack is disappearing at an alarming rate from smartphones, not everyone is on board with its demise. Microsoft may be aiming to solve the issue of physical limitations associated with making phones thinner than ever. A patent granted for "Plug receptacle for an electronic device" details how a 3.5mm receptacle can be partially expandable out the front or back of a device.

    By using an expandable headphone jack, the thickness of the body of a device is no longer an issue. A flexible jacket around a TRS or TRRS connector using spring loaded contactors makes the appropriate electrical connections and keeps a firm connection. As space runs out inside of mobile devices, expanding the usable space to outside of the main body seems like an obvious alternative.

    In total, Microsoft details three different variations of the design. Either the front, back, or both sides of the receptacle can expand to provide extra room for what some now consider to be a bulky legacy option.

    Of course, Microsoft or any other manufacturer of hardware could always make a mobile device slightly thicker in favor of a larger battery and space for more features, but how thin a device is seems to remain a popular statistic among marketing departments.

    A major upside to this new patent is that all existing 3.5mm headphones and accessories would be usable. Phones could become thinner without losing a feature that is still important to many consumers. On the flip side, added manufacturing complexity and more moving parts could mean that OEMs are unlikely to make use of this technology.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,517   +1,724

    OR< they could just make the phone a bit thicker, put in a bigger battery like users keep asking for, and keep the old jack.

    I'm not sure what is a dumber idea, this expanding port or the special processing chip to make cameras thinner so they didnt stick out of phones.
  3. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Guru Posts: 653   +469

    Look. Just like everybody else, I hate when they change connectors to make you go buy all new accessories but *sometimes* it really is an improvement. Look at USB for example. When you first get your hands on USB type C, you about fall out of your chair. No more plugging it in the wrong way. You ask yourself, why the he11 have we stayed with the old connector so long?! My point: If it's an improvement, go with it. Don't stick with old technology that is obviously bigger than it needs to be. Create a newer better standard and stick with it. That DOESN'T mean do what Apple does and create your own unique connectors and force all users to buy YOUR accessories. You go with the new standard!
    Reehahs likes this.
  4. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,161   +627

    I don't know about you, but I never plugged in my headphone jack the wrong way. Not once.
  5. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,286

    Is it worth M$ bothering with the old standard? It's days are definitely numbered? Apparently they must think it is otherwise they wouldn't. Initially when manufacturers were busy abandoning the old 3.5 mm jack I was peeved, I liked my old, wired earbuds and I was used to being tethered but after having switched to wireless/Bluetooth I'm wondering why they (and me) didn't do this a lot earlier.
  6. pawel04

    pawel04 TS Booster Posts: 81   +90

    I think his point was more regarding the adoption of new/improved standards rather than the physical shape of the 3.5mm jack..
    Kibaruk and OutlawCecil like this.
  7. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,821   +2,075

    Beat me to it.

    I don't understand this war against the headphone jack, aren't phones thing enough already? I also don't want to have to worry about charging my headphones. Think of it this way, you're headphones probably take longer to get fully charged than you will be using them so they need to be plugged into something at somepoint anyway.

    The ABSOLUTE only time I ever want wireless headphones is when I'm either at the gym or running. Fact of the matter is, though, that I use my phone far more in the car and at home for music than I do anywhere else.

    Oh, speaking of headphone jacks in the car, this leads me to another rant. Why is everything touchscreen in cars now? If I want to connect my phone to my car it takes FAR MORE steps and time to do it wirelessly than with a wired connection. The other thing is that if I'm driving and my phone gets disconnected from bluetooth it wont RECONNECT to my car unless I'm at a complete stop. And, finally, does anyone else find it completely rediculous that in an age of "distracted driving" car manufactures decide to put 7+ inch tablets in every car that control 90% of the cars functions? Seems a bit counter productive, but what do I know? I'm just a guy who likes to use a 3.5mm headphone jack......
  8. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,286

    Unless you're as strong as an ox and disregard resistance... or simply just had too much to drink, I can't figure out how you'd manage to plug it in the wrong way but yeah, the type-C convenience should've been a no brainer for the governing body from very beginning.
  9. Starting to have too many devices to charge too often, you may feel differently. A wire simply works for a lot of things
  10. Wagan8r

    Wagan8r TS Evangelist Posts: 605   +67

    The difference is that there is no better standard. The options for wireless audio provide a worse audio quality than what is available for the 3.5mm standard. It's obsolescence for the sake of driving sales of Apple products (Air pods and Beats). You may be able to argue that being untethered is worth it, but at best it is a tradeoff not an objectively superior technology.
    cryptospore, anisbet2171 and Oshyan like this.
  11. bielius

    bielius TS Addict Posts: 214   +17

    Also the fact that for some reason, my stereo plays music louder over bluetooth than using 3.5mm in my car(pioneer header).
  12. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,821   +2,075

    That has to do with the Bluetooth signal strength being standard among devices but the the strength of the amplifier in the phone varies from device. The DAC(Digital to Analog Converter) over a wired connection is on the phone where as when you're using blue tooth the bluetooth device has it's own DAC built in. Your phone sends a wireless signal to the DAC in your choosen playback device. Two different phones should have an identical volume level playing through a Blouetooth device but if you plugged them in with a wired connection they would both VERY likely have different max volumes.
  13. FloofyFox

    FloofyFox TS Rookie

    Of course you are going to meet resistance when removing a connector that has been the popular standard for half a century.

    The real question here is will people be bothered by the ugly hang nail hinge on the back of their new super slim phone?
  14. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Guru Posts: 653   +469

    Why is everybody misunderstanding me? I'm saying standard USB has been around forever, type C comes out and is smaller and doesn't have a "wrong way" which was an issue for every person who ever used it. With the 3.5 headphone jack, I'm saying it's old technology and is obviously larger than it needs to be nowadays. Obviously I'm not saying you can plug it in upside down! I'm saying we need a new standard. And no, wireless is not the solution. We just need to use the 2.5 size for headphones or create a new plug type all together.
  15. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,757   +1,149

    Sometimes the only way to promote change is to force it, as simple as that. People reject change just because.
  16. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,517   +1,724

    I think the resistance isnt just changing jacks, it is removing it. Bluetooth just isnt a proper replacement for 3.5mm, never will be, it wasnt meant for audio.

    This new jack strikes me as an easily broken half solution.
    FloofyFox and anisbet2171 like this.
  17. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Guru Posts: 653   +469

    Dedicated to yRaz, let me throw in one last comment. The 3.5 jack was invented back in 1878. I know people tend to stick with "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" but the simple fact is, newer better technologies come out all the time. Certainly almost 140 years is enough to reinvent something. ONE new standard is needed here.
  18. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,821   +2,075

    do you understand how electrical connections work? I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and a chance to explain WHAT exactly about the 3.5mm headphone jack make it obsolete.
    anisbet2171 likes this.
  19. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Guru Posts: 653   +469

    Let me think about this one... the fact that it's a connector that is 3.5mm worth of total connectivity? That kind of surface space is not needed for ANY electronics nowadays. That's actually huge compared to what it needs to be. Thick phone or thin, it CAN be a smaller connector.
  20. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,821   +2,075

    So you don't know how electrical connections work? How many bent male Micro USB connectors do you have? I know I have atleast 4 cables that have broken at the base of the connection due to it's size making it fragile. 3.5mm sees WAY more abuse when in use than MicroUSB ever does. Keep in mind, I've seen both sides of the USB connection break, same would happen 3.5mm if we made it any smaller.

    Then we have to get down to practicality. There are quite literally BILLIONS if not TENS OF BILLIONS of 3.5mm devices around the world today. Let's just replace all of those because SOME people want their phones thinner.

    Now I'm going to move past the "replacing billions of connections" things here real quick because anyone with common sense doesn't need that one explained. I will move over to the fact that make phones thinner than they already are is REALLY STUPID. Phones are already very fragile and the extra thickness IS NEEDED to house a larger battery which consumers are BEGGING FOR.

    But there is ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY NOTHING about the 3.5mm connection that warrants its replacement. It's job is to reliabily send a clean, analog signal over a cable into a receiving device. It does that flawlessly and has done so flawless for 40+ years.

    And if this comment gets banned for shouting, too, I want to see a diagram of where the vocal cords on a keyboard are.
    anisbet2171 likes this.
  21. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Guru Posts: 653   +469

    small correction, that's 140 years... although that IS technically 40+.

    Thank you for the (calm) explanation of your views. I do agree smaller connections can break easier but then again that could be resolved simply by manufacturers using better materials. Everything is made cheaply and on a to-be-thrown-away basis. If you had the luck to witness anything from the 1800s or early 1900s, you know they were built well and lasted forever. 3.5mm jacks haven't changed and thus, are still made strong. Even with cheaper matrierals, the sheer size and shape keep it strong. We agree here.

    What I don't agree with, is that this is the best solution for the current year and current technology. Transfer rates for 3.5mm jacks are an embarrassment compared to usb. I'm sure we can make stronger jacks and stronger plugs if durability is your biggest concern.

    As for the "billions of devices would need replaced" argument... Again, people get stuck in their ways and don't like change. Look at how many computers had Windows xp and were forced to update. People loved Windows XP and there was nothing wrong with it. It was just old and Microsoft decided to kill it for something newer and shinier. This happens all the time, you just have to go with it. 140 years is waaaaaay past due. We've enjoyed 3.5mm jacks for a long time, but now they are old and need to die.
  22. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,363   +607

    I see that you are quite literal minded. Just in case it ever comes up again, you may refer to the posting guidelines for clarification of words or terms used: https://www.techspot.com/terms.html
  23. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Guru Posts: 653   +469

    I haven't mentioned a reason to replace it other than the fact that it's old because I personally don't care. I love all technology. But my original post was my opinion based on the fact that phone makers want to replace it. (for whatever reasons they have). I'm not one to stand up and say stop taking it away because... you guessed it... it's old and needs to die anyways.

    For the date I mentioned, see here...
  24. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,757   +1,149

    Unwatching another topic... oh boy...
  25. BSim500

    BSim500 TS Evangelist Posts: 599   +1,201

    No, people generally reject "change for the sake of change" where there's no real improvement or where you're swapping one trade-off for another (gaining wireless but now need to charge two devices instead of one, and generally have much worse choice of high end phones with the BT market saturated in cheap bass-saturated workout cr*p). Or where the change is an obvious mobile cash grab to force the sale of overpriced dongles...

    As Theinsanegamer said, a lot of people don't even find ultra-thin phones that appealing / comfortable to hold, and actually want a 1-2mm thicker phone with a big-*ss battery that lasts twice as long as the cr*p the "artsy" types dream of as the future...

    That's nothing. The table fork was invented by the ancient Greek's, but the spork is thousands of years more recent. Glad to see all the trend-setters here have emptied their cutlery drawers in pursuit of that neophile edginess... ;-)

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