The 3.5mm TRS stereo jack (tip, ring, sleeve) has been around for a very long time. The original 6.35mm version hails from the late 1800s where it was used in telephone switches.
The 3.5mm version appeared in the 1950s and is still widely used today. This means you can take the earbuds almost three quarters of a century ago and use them with your 2019 smartphone.
That’s if you haven’t bought one of the 2019 flagship smartphones. It’s been a long time but smartphone makers are starting to ditch the venerable headphone jack entirely. This resulted in a lot of crying and gnashing of teeth, but in the end, this brave little sound hole is likely to become a bizarre piece of engineering history.
However, we haven’t reached that yet, and as a daring adherent of cutting edge mobile technology, you suddenly find yourself in a situation where 99% of the audio accessories you own are no longer compatible with your shiny new phone. This is especially painful if you’ve purchased high-quality headphones that function great but need a headphone jack to work.
Now what? We’ll get back to that soon, but first let’s talk about why humble Jack goes the dodo path.
Why is the headphone jack disappearing?
There are many reasons why a smartphone developer would like to get rid of the headphone jack. Some of them are useful for consumers, others for the net profit of the manufacturer. Taken as a whole, they constitute clear signs that something is about to change.
The first big reason is that the headphone jack takes up quite a bit of space in the device, where every cubic millimeter counts. The headphone jack only serves one function, so it’s a pricey sacrifice in terms of design. The connector also limits how thin phones can be, although from a consumer’s perspective the question is how thin phones should be.
In addition to being incredibly thin, the headphone jack unloading makes it easy to waterproof the device. This is one of the main sources of infiltration that you no longer need to worry about. This also means that the USB-C – or Lightning port – (depending on your accessory) can now handle audio tasks with hardware that’s already there, whether you have a connector or not. This means that manufacturers eliminate the primary source of redundancy.
The list of arguments for removing the jack is quite long, but enough to highlight that the writing is on the wall. So if we all agree that a jack-free future is inevitable, let’s see what to do with the program.
Yes, #DongleLife is no longer limited to Apple fans, phones like Samsung Note 10 and 10+ also lack a headphone jack. The best workaround is to buy an adapter that converts a USB-C or Lighting connector to a 3.5mm TRS connector.
If you buy a simple adapter that only has a connector, you will have to forgo wired charging when using it. This can be a problem if you use your phone in the car, so consider getting one of the slightly more expensive dongles that can charge your device and provide legacy audio support at the same time.
While you’re doing this, you can even choose a model that has HDMI, USB-A, or an SD card reader. After all, it’s a shame to waste all that bandwidth waiting to be hooked up to modern ports. Just don’t forget to choose a product from a well-known brand. In particular, there have been some gimmicks with proper USB-C certification, so it’s worth a little work before hitting the Buy button.
Buy a Bluetooth adapter
It turns out that there is a way to continue using existing audio equipment and to take advantage of today’s wireless digital audio. Just buy a bluetooth audio adapter.
These devices are essentially a Bluetooth and audio device for Bluetooth headphones and speakers. They have a 3.5mm jack that you can plug in anything you want. Connect your phone to the adapter, connect your favorite audio device and listen to music.
You can buy adapters that plug into a 12V or USB car outlet. Battery operated models can be strapped to the shirt. This is the best of the two approaches, with little annoyance to dealing with excess wiring. It can be more expensive than a dongle, but it works with any Bluetooth audio device, which is much more than USB-C or Lighting audio devices.
Take the Wireless Headphone Plunger
If you’re not connected to your current set of headphones, it might be worth upgrading to wireless Bluetooth headphones While you might think they’re all expensive (AirPods are on display at A), there are now wireless earbuds at every price point.
Sure, you get what you pay for in terms of sound quality, but Bluetooth itself is pretty mature and even the cheapest wireless banks aren’t that much more expensive than their wired counterparts.
A premium option is to buy a few independent, true wireless earbuds, but virtually all earbuds come in wireless form. Moreover, the battery life of most modern wireless headphones is measured in days. Featuring the latest Bluetooth low energy technology.
Stages of Grief
It’s understandable to feel lost when a die-hard friend like the humble headphone jack unplugs that death coil. It’s okay to feel a little discouraged, but Jack wants us all to get on with our lives and embrace the change.
Alternatively, you can keep your old smartphone forever, but we do not recommend it.