Do you remember where you were on September 16th, 2016? That was the day Apple killed jack.
In one of the most contentious design decisions Apple has ever made, it removed the beloved headphone jack from the iPhone. A courageous choice to kill a piece of hardware that had been with us for half a century. And it wasn’t just Apple users who were taken aback by the sheer bravery of this decision, Android users knew all too well that it would only be a matter of time before their favorite brands followed suit.
Perhaps it’s inevitable that as an industry leader your product design will be under the most scrutiny. Or perhaps it’s the bold choices you make that give you the lead. Either way, Apple has ruffled many a feather over the years with its ruthless march towards a sleek, brushed-metal future. It invited laughter for a thousand-dollar monitor stand and dismay at the complete removal of the CD drive, yet nothing has invoked as much enduring bitterness as the loss of the poor, old, innocent headphone jack.
So, why did the headphone jack get removed in the first place? It depends on who you ask. Smartphone brands are in a fierce tech race, so claims that removing the headphone jack frees up space for extra hardware seem plausible. On the other hand, this Strange Parts video shows there is (just about) room for a headphone jack in the iPhone 7 while (just about) retaining complete functionality.
The disputes don’t stop there either, almost every justification for removing the headphone jack has as many detractors as it does supporters. Water-resistance? The LG G8 has a headphone jack and IP68 protection. Bigger battery? The Huawei P30 has a headphone jack and 3550mAh, day-and-a-half runtime. Whatever the real reason, other brands were all too ready to say that they could do everything Apple could, all without removing the jack.
When the iPhone headphone jack’s obituary was still fresh off the press, its biggest competitors used the opportunity to score points with consumers at Apple’s expense. Google notoriously made the headphone jack a feature of its Pixel series. OnePlus didn’t miss the chance to point out that the OnePlus 5 had a physical audio port when the iPhone didn’t. And if you caught any of Samsung’s promotional content you’d have seen some less than friendly remarks.
Surprisingly, all these brands were a lot less vocal about the headphone jack when, sometime later, they decided their phones were probably also better without one. When pushed to explain the decision, they were quick to take a leaf from Apple’s book and offer vague claims of space-saving and profound visions of a wireless future.
Regardless of the real reasons behind these decisions, it’s fair to say that a lot of users are still far from emotionally healed after jack’s demise. A Google search today opens the gates to a deluge of recent blogs, articles, and videos alleging that the removal of the headphone jack is tantamount to the biggest mistake in tech history. It begs the question, why exactly are people still so annoyed?
Consumers tend to have several complaints:
- Sound quality just isn’t as good
- Bluetooth is nowhere near as reliable as a wired connection
- It’s another device that needs recharging
- Charging and listening at the same time becomes impossible
It might simply be the case that the jump to the wireless era came a few years too soon.
Traditionally, the gaps between old and new technology could be bridged immediately if you had enough money to buy into the next generation. With Bluetooth audio, is it possible that even with all the money in the world, there is nothing on the market that can deliver the same performance as wired headphones?
If you’re missing jack but are tempted to finally let him rest in peace, we just released Liberty 2 Pro, our all-new flagship true-wireless earphones. It uses all-new driver technology to deliver outstanding sound quality, and as far as we know, it’s the only cure for people who are still mourning jack. But don’t just take our word for it, check out this page where you can see endorsements from 10 Grammy award-winning audio producers.
If you share this blog on Facebook or Twitter and comment below to let us know how you’re dealing with jack’s departure then you’ll get a chance to win a free Liberty 2 Pro. Do you still lament the wired headphones gathering dust in your cupboard? Have you already gone wireless? Are you still sticking to phones with a jack? We’ll announce the winner of Liberty 2 Pro on the 8th of November, right here in the Collective.
Finally, we can at least be grateful that all this controversy provides fertile ground for memes to flourish. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what’s most important?