Despite making all kinds of fun of Apple when they deleted the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 back in 2016, Samsung has already kicked the 3.5 mm to the curb on the Galaxy Fold, and now rumor has it they'll be killing it off the Galaxy Note 10 as well.
Well, that's been the rumor for a while but now we have the dongle as evidence. (Technically adapter, but dongle, while less accurate because it used to refer to hardware copy protectors, is just way more fun to say.)
Obviously, Samsung isn't the first company to ditch the jack for the dongle. HTC has been doing it off and on for over a decade. And the dongle's they made for Windows Mobile phones back in the day — even the very first Android devices — make modern adapters look elegant by comparison.
Palm and BlackBerry went through their awkward, 2.5mm phase where you needed adapters to use your 3.5mm headphones. Much like older and even current high-end… er… headphones have 6.3 mm — yup, the quarter-inches — adapters.
3.5mm headphone jacks really came into vogue with the iPod and the mainstreaming of digital music, and then, of course, the iPhone. The original of which had a jack so hipster skinny you needed an adapter for pretty much any headphones other than Apple's anyway.
How Samsung will explain removing the jack after pushing back against it so hard for so long will be interesting to see.
When Apple is late to a party, like with things like bigger screens and OLED Displays, they just say the previous versions sucked and they were waiting until they could do it right.
"The previous way some other companies were deleting headphone jacks sucked, Samsung is doing it right and proper!" That may be a hard sell, though, so we'll have to wait and see how — or even if — they make their case.
Personally, I don't miss the 3.5mm headphone jack. I'm all in on AirPods and Bluetooth and I'm not a huge music listener anyway. I'm that animal whose been listening to podcasts on the device speaker for over a decade, and I've lived. But I also recognize my opinion isn't everyone's opinion. And as headphone jacks go away, or at least as our ability to assume they'll be there one generation, hell one phone to the next goes away, it gets harder and harder to plan your next purchase.
Like, what does this even mean on the Pixel 4 diagram Google preview-leaked earlier this week? An actual 3.5mm or just a really weird way to label the speaker and mic array? I still don't know. Haven't got a clue.
We're all effectively caught in Schrodinger's headphone jack.
At least for now. The good bad news is that it's probably going to go away everywhere eventually. It's pretty much a unitasker in an increasingly multitasker world, it's long and takes up a lot of space inside increasingly crammed devices, and while you can get water resistance with it, it's still risky if you plug into it while wet.
People, especially people who have low or no vision, need the ability to listen to audio while charging, so for accessibility reasons alone, every company should be including a break-out adapter in the box or as a low-cost, easily available option.
Beyond that, I think we really have to start preparing ourselves for the stupid, user-hostile future where headphone jacks are as rare on phones as hardware keyboards. We'll get a single port and then, eventually, Ghosts of Jedi past help us, no ports at all.
And if that fills you with headphone ripping levels of rage, or wireless wonder, jump into the comments and let me know.
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.