Death of 3.5mm audio jack rethink

pika2000

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Jun 22, 2007
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We know the rumors are plenty about the removal of 3.5mm audio jack. A chinese Android OEM has done it too. Then intel has proposed USB-C as the solution.

I think it's happening, whether we like it or not.

Now having said that, looking at a different angle, this is what the music industry has wanted. No matter how protected music is, there is (was) always the analog hole to record/copy the music. The 3.5mm audio jack has become that channel, even since the minidisc era. We already killed analog video with HDMI (remember how people complained about DRM on HDMI?), to satisfy the entertainment industry (sure it brings HD etc, but let's face it, the DRM is there).

So my thought now is that the removal of 3.5mm audio jack is not only due to evolution of tech, but also to satisfy some corporate old interest.

Thoughts?
 

redheeler

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Oct 17, 2014
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The removal of the 3.5mm jack won't mean the death of it, but it will mean people will be forced to plug a dongle into the lightning port to use their existing headphones or speakers. This need for backwards compatibility with wired headphones and speakers isn't going away anytime soon.
 

Phoenixx

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Jul 3, 2015
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The removal of the 3.5 Jack IS to satisfy a corporate interest: New Apple's interest in selling an adaptor, or in forcing companies to pay some kind of fee for the "privilege" or producing Lightening Port based headphones.

It's all about New Apple trying to control every single part of the iPhone: from "registered" cables to charge the thing, to forcing repairs to be done by New Apple because the phone stops working properly if you go to a third party. New Apple want to screw every single dollar out of you that they possibly can, that's simply the way they do business.

Note: The use of "New Apple" here is deliberate, to indicate that the Apple that produced products that were well thought out, carefully engineered, reliable and gave a genuine premium experience is well and truly gone. New Apple is instead basing their approach on pure profit, without much regard for customer experience, or any of the other factors that made Apple products so worthwhile.
 
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hiddenmarkov

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Mar 12, 2014
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Industry can't kill 3.5. Its still too prevalent in the production aspects of video and audio. Even wireless mics at some point transmit to a box that connects via a cable to something. Can be 3.5. Or something adapted to work with it (xlr adapters and such in my case).

Its not dying by any means. Maybe on consumer stuff like this but it won't be across the board here even.
 

thadoggfather

macrumors G4
Oct 1, 2007
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Yeah lack of 3.5 just seems so lame, especially if the iPhone 7 is really iPhone 6S² in form factor, which it appears to be from schematics and the pixelated leak
 

nikeagogo

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Apr 20, 2016
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I've been using Bluetooth headphones for over a year now. 3.5mm jack won't be missed at all for me. In fact, using wired headphones now feels strange.
Couldn't agree more, personally, but then again I don't consider myself an audiophile. If I'm not mistaken, it is this demographic that seems resitant to the Bluetooth movement, no? Maybe quality of BT headsets has gotten better, though, and I just haven't been keeping up.
 

pika2000

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Jun 22, 2007
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The removal of the 3.5mm jack won't mean the death of it, but it will mean people will be forced to plug a dongle into the lightning port to use their existing headphones or speakers. This need for backwards compatibility with wired headphones and speakers isn't going away anytime soon.
It won't change overnight obviously. Looking back at HDMI, back then, it's neck-to-neck with component video out, and there were many people against HDMI due to DRM. Fast forward, now I don't even see analog video in the consumer world anymore. And I only see analog VGA if I go to schools/companies that have not upgraded their old projectors.

It's just curious that plugging the analog hole is what the music industry has dreamed about for, maybe forever. And if a Chinese Android company is doing it, I think it's not too farfetched that we will be in a world without any more 3.5mm audio jack in the consumer space.

Another interesting point is that while DRM was hugely discussed in the HDMI transition, I am surprised that nobody seems to discuss the possibility of us going back to DRMed and provider-locked music. Heck, streaming music is already there, with the format being company specific and encrypted. It's ironic, considering how hard we fought to have DRM free music.
 

Superrjamz54

macrumors 6502
Dec 4, 2015
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Industry can't kill 3.5. Its still too prevalent in the production aspects of video and audio. Even wireless mics at some point transmit to a box that connects via a cable to something. Can be 3.5. Or something adapted to work with it (xlr adapters and such in my case).

Its not dying by any means. Maybe on consumer stuff like this but it won't be across the board here even.
It'll be gone quickly replaced by either lightning port or usb c.
 

bpeeps

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May 6, 2011
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It won't change overnight obviously. Looking back at HDMI, back then, it's neck-to-neck with component video out, and there were many people against HDMI due to DRM. Fast forward, now I don't even see analog video in the consumer world anymore. And I only see analog VGA if I go to schools/companies that have not upgraded their old projectors.

It's just curious that plugging the analog hole is what the music industry has dreamed about for, maybe forever. And if a Chinese Android company is doing it, I think it's not too farfetched that we will be in a world without any more 3.5mm audio jack in the consumer space.

Another interesting point is that while DRM was hugely discussed in the HDMI transition, I am surprised that nobody seems to discuss the possibility of us going back to DRMed and provider-locked music. Heck, streaming music is already there, with the format being company specific and encrypted. It's ironic, considering how hard we fought to have DRM free music.
Component to HDMI is a different boat than what Apple is doing. If other manufacturers get on board with removing 3.5 jacks, I could see it being widespread. Until then it's just another thunderbolt, lighting, or FireWire instance.
 

maflynn

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The removal of the 3.5 Jack IS to satisfy a corporate interest: New Apple's interest in selling an adaptor, or in forcing companies to pay some kind of fee for the "privilege" or producing Lightening Port based headphones.
I think its less about increasing dongle sales and more about creating a design that allows them to make the phone thinner without needing that component taking up space. It may even be a move to make the phone more water proof - that's more conjecture though.
 
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rulymammoth

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Jun 8, 2015
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I think its less about increasing dongle sales and more about creating a design that allows them to make the phone thinner without needing that component taking up space. It may even be a move to make the phone more water proof - that's more conjecture though.
Good point on the water proof. Although Samsung seems to be able to water proof their phones even with a 3.5mm jack. Sure helps to have one less hole though.

I'm sure Apple won't just remove the jack without putting something awesome as a substitute. Maybe a Bluetooth solution that can also be plugged in and charge via the Lightning port.
 

maflynn

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I'm sure Apple won't just remove the jack without putting something awesome as a substitute. Maybe a Bluetooth solution that can also be plugged in and charge via the Lightning port.
We already have BT headphones, so I don't think that will be the recommended replacement Apple will be pushing. I think it will be a Lightning port solution which worries me the most. The headphone jack is universal, everyone is using it. The lightning port is proprietary and that will limit the selection for us. True many headphone makers will embrace it, because of the marketshare the iPhone enjoys, but that embrace may take the form of a dongle.

I came across some article (I forget where exactly) but Intel was looking to have USB-C replace the headphone jack. I can see this solution being more equitable as USB is more universal but I highly doubt Apple will suddenly drop the Lightening port, not when they're using it with their wireless mice, keyboards and stylus.
 

throAU

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Feb 13, 2012
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Bluetooth is a natural fit for headphones. The lack of quality headphones that do Bluetooth is a market opportunity for someone, the protocol itself has the bandwidth for it, and being digital it will actually be higher quality than the analog output and not subject to electrical noise either within the device or the cable running from the phone to the headphones.
 

hiddenmarkov

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Mar 12, 2014
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It'll be gone quickly replaced by either lightning port or usb c.
Phones possibly.

Was thinking beyond the world of phones.

handheld game systems, cameras with video accessory support, etc....these will keep 3.5 alive a good while. 3.5 not viewed as that old tech in this realm. Its old faithful really. Sometimes not a bad thing.

Cameras this would be a hardsell to users (with a brain in their head anyway). We are removing 3.5 because its old and useless a pitch that won't work. Just dongle it for those trashy device you run. many words have been used to describe Rode mic systems. Old, useless, or trashy not among them. Barring reviewer getting really bad sample...very highly regarded mic vendor. To include many 3.5 options. It make no sense for the camera industry to kill 3.5 when the accessory market is based on it being there basically. Even XLR cabled stuff at some point gets converted to 3.5 for input in quite a few cases.
 

Pakaku

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Aug 29, 2009
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Intel's story has nothing to do with iPhones. Apple uses Lightning on their iPhones, not USB. This would be more likely to happen with something like the USB-C MacBook. And guess which company makes the MacBook's processor?

I think its less about increasing dongle sales and more about creating a design that allows them to make the phone thinner without needing that component taking up space.
Except Apple has managed to make the iPod Nanos the thickness of a 3.5mm port for a while now, so removing it from a product line that hasn't even reached that amount of flat-ness yet for the sake of having a flatter device is an extremely weak excuse. And even if they did, they would probably stick to Lightning because Apple has a whole Lightning Headphones project going on.
 

cynics

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Jan 8, 2012
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Honestly this theory (due to DRM) seems to make the most sense to me so far from all the theories I've heard.

Thinness, meh there are thinner devices with a 3.5" port.

Audio quality, already available, removing the 3.5" jack doesn't make the lightning port sound better.

Forcing licensing fees and DRM restrictions though. Thats really worth something plus the iPhone gets less expensive to manufacture. Win win, well for Apple anyway.
 

mw360

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Aug 15, 2010
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The removal of the 3.5 Jack IS to satisfy a corporate interest: New Apple's interest in selling an adaptor, or in forcing companies to pay some kind of fee for the "privilege" or producing Lightening Port based headphones.
Yep, they patented charging the earphones while listening to music just to prevent us getting the charger-free experience we already have unless we buy Beats headphones or indirectly pay patent licensing fees on both the earphones and the Lightning cable.
 

eoblaed

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Apr 21, 2010
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The removal of the 3.5mm jack is something that's been due for a while. We already have a perfectly serviceable port on the device that can double as sound output (and I'm assuming there'll be an adapter to allow simultaneous power/headphones, or a lightning cable with a pass-through 3.5mm port on it, or something along those lines).

It removes a large piece of hardware from the device, leaving more room for other things, and it removes a rather large entry point for debris, moisture, etc.
 

Mac 128

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Apr 16, 2015
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Honestly this theory (due to DRM) seems to make the most sense to me so far from all the theories I've heard.

Thinness, meh there are thinner devices with a 3.5" port.

Audio quality, already available, removing the 3.5" jack doesn't make the lightning port sound better.

Forcing licensing fees and DRM restrictions though. Thats really worth something plus the iPhone gets less expensive to manufacture. Win win, well for Apple anyway.
There are thinner devices with 3.5mm, and Apple's aren't really even close to the 4mm or so necessary to access the port on edge. However, the total cubic volume is quite large. So the thinner a device goes, the more room inside they need to expand things horizontally they are reducing vertically.

Removing the jack doesn't make Lightning audio sound any better, but it does allow Apple to shave a few pennies and use a lower quality DAC & Amp for the low-quality speakers in the iPhone. More importantly, it forces the user to consider how they will listen to music, and drive demand and thus competition, innovation, quality improvements and price reductions on wireless products as well as Lightning.

Now, DRM appears to make sense at first, until you start considering the Lightning to 3.5mm adapter. That box essentially breaks DRM, and offers an analogue signal useable by any existing 3.5mm audio equipped device, which could just as easily be a recorder. Maybe the adapter will contribute a certain percentage of its sales to the record industry just like CDs did and that will keep prices high on them, something I had not considered before. However, how long will it be until Chinese companies start selling cheap dongles which break DRM? So it's short lived at best.
 
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cynics

macrumors G4
Jan 8, 2012
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There are thinner devices with 3.5mm, and Apple's aren't really even close to the 4mm or so necessary to access the port on edge. However, the total cubic volume is quite large. So the thinner a device goes, the more room inside they need to expand things horizontally they are reducing vertically.

Removing the jack doesn't make Lightning audio sound any better, but it does allow Apple to shave a few pennies and use a lower quality DAC & Amp for the low-quality speakers in the iPhone. More importantly, it forces the user to consider how they will listen to music, and drive demand and thus competition, innovation, quality improvements and price reductions on wireless products as well as Lightning.

Now, DRM appears to make sense at first, until you start considering the Lightning to 3.5mm adapter. That box essentially breaks DRM, and offers an analogue signal useable by any existing 3.5mm audio equipped device, which could just as easily be a recorder. Maybe the adapter will contribute a certain percentage of its sales to the record industry just like DVDs did and that will keep prices high on them, something I had not considered before. However, how long will it be until Chinese companies start selling cheap dongles which break DRM? So it's short lived at best.
I actually don't disagree with anything you have to say however I feel compelled to play devils advocate.

I'm picturing an adaptor that requires proprietary components (more than just the connector) for its DAC (this wouldn't be difficult with compression or encryption think lightning AV connector) then Apple can break DRM audio. Everything else can work perfectly.

The only lightning to 3.5 jack I can find is Apples lightning dock. Are you aware of any others? If not why do you think?
 

lordofthereef

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Nov 29, 2011
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USB C as a solution is the superior option in my eyes because it's a universal standard. With lightning I'll either need Special equipment or at least an adapter. Neither of those I needed before.
 

maflynn

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USB C as a solution is the superior option in my eyes because it's a universal standard. With lightning I'll either need Special equipment or at least an adapter. Neither of those I needed before.
Yes, but I don't think its capable right now, based on the linked article.
A similar article to the one you mentioned. For those interested.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/10273...urce=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link