Nowadays, there has been an ever-growing trend to remove the 3.5mm Headphone jack from smartphones and tablets. The trend was started by Apple in 2016 with the launch of the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus. These were phones which signaled the end of the road for the Headphone jack.
For people living under a rock, the 3.5mm Headphone jack is the port that you use to plug-in your audio devices for listening to music. It was invented for use in telephone switchboards in early 19th century. Nowadays the jack is generally found on most of the consumer electronics devices (considering it has not been removed). But, it can also be found on devices like Amplifiers and is also used for military applications. The ways it works is by transmitting analog signal from the audio source to the destinations with the help of a cable. It can be used for both mono and stereo sounds, and can transmit signal over varying distances. Though the sound quality usually decreases as the distance increases. They are also very easy to use and understand, and their manufacturing is also relatively cheap and easy.
Now, if the headphone jack has so many good points, then you may ask why they are being removed from devices?
Before answering this question, let’s first understand Bluetooth technology. Bluetooth is a wireless communication standard which is used for exchanging data over short distances using UHF radio waves in the ISM band from 2.4 to 2.48 GHz. The technology standard is maintained and licensed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, a not-for-profit company based in Washington.
Bluetooth works by converting the analog signal to digital, and then breaking the signal into packets. These packets are then transmitted using the required frequencies to the receiver device. The receiver device then decodes then decodes these packets, and converts them back to analog signal. The conversion, transmission, and re-conversion process leads to small, but present, loss of information, which in-turn leads to decrease in the sound quality.
So, we saw that Bluetooth, though wireless and more convenient, leads to an inevitable loss in sound quality. Let’s get back to our earlier question.
One of the reasons that most company give for removing the jack is that we are entering the wireless age, and that wireless headhones have become commonplace. But, as far as I know, Bluetooth technology has not become matured enough to completely replace wired communication. Have you ever tried to pair a new speaker to your mobile, and failed miserably? I have too, and there’s nothing more irritating than being unable to pair devices through Bluetooth. But, if you had the headphone, you could just insert a cable in both devices and voila, you’re good to go. See how easy it was through the headphone jack?
That’s the point of using technology, that it should make your life easier and let you focus on more important things. But it seems that we are going backwards in technology by removing convenient things from our devices, and in the name of what? Shaving off a tenth of a centimeter in thickness from our devices.
But, despite all this, the leading tech companies have decided to remove the jack. And that means that it is the end of the line for the 3.5mm Headphone jack. Thank you for making listening to music so easy.
What do you think, should the headphone jack stay or should Bluetooth take over?
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