Galaxy Note 10 is the Seventh Sign — The End of 3.5mm jacks is nigh

Samsung Galaxy Fold
Samsung Galaxy Fold (Image credit: iMore)

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

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.

  • Hahaha! Samsung hypocrites. They didn’t have the “courage” to eliminate that audio jack 3 years ago, instead waiting for others to trail-blaze the harsh wilderness for them. It’s precisely because of Apple’s decision 3 years ago to eliminate that port that there are so many more audio bluetooth options for cell phones and Samsung now, making it safe for the non-innovators.
  • Samsung mocked removing the headphone jack and adding the notch, and now they've done both. I think Samsung just uses it as a selling campaign, they don't really hate Apple, they just know that looking like they hate Apple sells well
  • Maybe and maybe not. It's about why.
    Have they done the research and deemed the market doesn't need them?
    Just because I don't need something now doesn't mean I won't in the future, does that make me a hypocrite?
  • It does make you a hypocrite if you downright mocked the company that did it first, signalling to your customers that it’s something you would never do
  • Doing wrong things at the wrong time deserves mocking. When Apple removed the headphone jack because they couldn’t fit all the components in their iPhone body, they got you stuck with a lightning port that needed a dongle if you wanted a wired headphone which was ridiculous (and still is). Now, thanks to Android-based phone manufacturers, USB-C has become the industry standard (which is why Apple is starting to jump on that android bandwagon at the cost of abandoning their scam of selling lightning port headphones and dongles) and as a result, there are now plethora of different USB-C wired headphones that can be purchased for cheap without needing to carry a dongle around.
  • "3.5mm headphone jacks really came into vogue with the iPod and the mainstreaming of digital music, and then, of course, the iPhone." Um, no. And no. And then, of course, no. Someone who "has been covering the personal technology industry for a decade" (a whole decade? Wow) might actually believe this. But your general cluelessness and Apple-centric world view have both reached absurd new levels. 3.5 mm headphone jacks go back to the mid 1950s. Seriously. Every portable radio has had one for 65 years. They were called earphone jacks back then, because they were called earphones. Do you have any idea how many portable radios were sold over the last 65 years? Billions. Yes, billions. Everyone always had one, just like today's phones. In the 1980s, every portable tape recorder and portable TV had one. The Sony Walkman and every huge boombox radio had one. Portable CD players. You HAVE heard of the Walkman, right? Everyone had one. In short, the 3.5mm audio jack has been "in vogue" on portable audio gear for over 60 years. Yes, portable audio existed before the iPod. It existed before Apple even existed. PCs, Macs and laptops used 3.5mm jacks for audio in/out for 15 years before the iPod. Next time, do at least SOME research on a topic before you pontificate on it. You DO have a computer and internet access, right? BTW, the internet was "in vogue" before the iPhone.
  • You forget; around these parts, the history of tech begins with the iPod. Everything before that is a mystery to them. This doesn’t absolve Apple of anything. They were wrong to pointlessly take away a perfectly fine component, and everyone that predictably followed in their footsteps is just as misguided. I like Bluetooth, I have a pair of buds I use quite a bit at work. But there have been so many times where I forget to charge them at the end of the day, and the battery runs out on me halfway into my next shift. So, guess what I grab next? A wired pair of earbuds. They never run out of power, and all I have to do to get them working is plug them in to my phone. And that’s really all Bluetooth is right now; just one more device I have to remember to charge. Lame. And no, a dongle is not a solution. It’s a lazy workaround. So don’t even bother yelling at me about that.
  • I'm not a fan of wireless earphones, mainly because like you said it's another device to charge. Removing the headphone jack to be replaced with USB-C does make sense, USB-C is there for that purpose, it replaces many existing ports so you just have one type of cable. Apple on the other hand removed the headphone jack and told people to use the proprietary lightning cable, which didn't make sense especially when the Macs are now USB-C. The only other complaint I've heard is not being able to charge the device with headphones plugged in, I've not run into this issue as I've made sure my phone is fully charged at the start of the day, but they could simply put two USB-C ports on the phone
  • This might be the first time I've agreed with your entire statement. Here, have a heart too....
  • I don't mind wireless headphones. I have good ones that last 30 hours on a charge. Not tiny, tinny sounding ear buds. Actual headphones. But still, I would rather have a separate audio connection. It just makes it SO much easier to connect to other audio equipment. "USB-C is there for that purpose, it replaces many existing ports so you just have one type of cable". I don't want a single port, that means I can only plug in 1 thing at a time. "Unitasker in an increasingly multitasker world" indeed. Plus, wired headphones sound better, but good bluetooth headphones are getting very close. My iPad Mini 5 has a headphone jack. My iPod Touch 7 has one, which pretty much rules out the claim that they are removed to "save space". The touch is tiny. Exactly how much space did we need to save in my 13" iPad Pro?
  • One type of port doesn’t mean the device needs to only have one port, it could have two or more USB-C slots. It’s always difficult when the headphone jack is as ubiquitous as it is, but if both Samsung and Apple have USB-C devices with no headphone jack port, it’ll only be a matter of time before you start seeing wired USB-C headphones everywhere. But yes, I do think there should be at least two ports on the phone. The iPad Pro could have more given it’s a Pro device