Two years ago, Apple killed the headphone port. I still haven’t forgiven them for that.
When Apple announced that the iPhone 7 would not have a headphone port, I was immediately upset. I thought maybe I would get over it in a few months. I didn’t. I thought if the worst got worse, I’d switch platforms. Then all the other manufacturers began to follow suit.
This, of course, is not a new annoyance for me. I’ve been hating headphone adapters on phones right here on this very website since two thousand nine. For a little stretch there though, I got my way.
It was a world full of shitty dedicated dongles and audio ports. Sony Ericsson had the FastPort. Nokia had the Pop-Port. Samsung had like 10 different ports that nobody gave a shit about. No phone maker had claimed the throne yet, so no port had ever become ubiquitous … but every maker wanted its port to become the Port. Even phones that had a standardized audio jack mostly had the smallest 2.5mm port, requiring an adapter anyway.
Then came the original iPhone with its 3.5mm headphone port. It was a weird recessed 3.5mm port that didn’t work with most headphones, but it was a 3.5mm port! Apple capitalized on the success of the iPod, and people referred to this device that is rumored as the iPod Phone before it was even announced. How could something like that? no Do you have a headphone port?
IPhone sales started to climb. A few million in 2007. Almost 12 million in 2008. 20 million in 2009. The tide turned. When Apple’s little glass plate took over the smartphone world, other manufacturers tried to figure out what Apple was doing so well. The smartphone market, once filled with button-covered plastic beasts (this one slides! This one spins!), Homogenized. Launch by launch, everything started to look more like the iPhone. A slab of glass. Top quality materials. Minimal physical buttons. And, of course, a headphone port.
In a couple of years, a standard headphone port wasn’t just a good selling point, it was a must. We had entered the wonderful era of being able to use your wired headphones whenever you were very happy.
Then came September 7, 2016, when Apple had the “courage” to announce that it was ditching the 3.5mm jack (and check out these new $ 150 wireless headphones by the way!).
Apple wasn’t the first to ditch the headphone port, but, as with its decision to include one, its decision to remove it has turned the tide. A few months after the portless iPhone 7 was announced, Xiaomi rejected the port on the Mi 6. Then Google ditched it from its Android phone, the Pixel 3. Even Samsung, who mocked Apple for the decision, appears to be playing with the idea of dropping it. Although the leaks suggest that the next Galaxy S10 will have a headphone port, the company pulled it out of the mid-range A8 lineup earlier this year. If 2016 was the year Apple tested the headphone jack, 2018 was the year it bled out.
And I’m still mad about it.
Technology comes and goes, and very often, by making Apple. Ditch the CD drive in laptops? That’s okay – CDs were doomed, and they were pretty horrible to begin with. Kill flash? Sucked flash. Change one type of USB port for another? Penalty fee, I suppose. The new USB is better in almost every way. At the very least, I won’t try to plug it in backwards only to flip it over and realize I had it right the first time.
But the headphone jack? Was penalty fee. It stood the test of time for a hundred cursed years, and for good reason: that. Alone. Job.
I’ve been trying to figure out why removing the headphone port bothers me more than other ports that have been unceremoniously canceled, and I think it’s because the headphone port almost always it just made me happy. Using the headphone port means listening to my favorite album, or using a free minute to catch the latest episode of a show, or handing a friend a headset to share a new tune. He allowed for happy moments and never got in the way.
Now whenever I want to use my headphones, I feel annoyed.
Bluetooth? Wow, he forgot to charge them. Or they are trying to pair with my laptop even though my laptop is off and in my backpack.
Dongle Wow, I left it on my other pair of headphones at work. Or screaming, fell somewhere, and now I have to go buy another.
I will only buy a handful of dongles and put them in all my headphones! I will keep extras in my bag for when I need to borrow a pair of headphones. It’s like five dongles at this point, problem solved! Oh wait: now I want to listen to music while I fall asleep, but I also recharge my phone so it isn’t dead in the morning. That’s a different, more expensive splitter key (many of which, as I’ve discovered, are poorly made garbage).
None of these are that great of a deal. Load up your fucking headphones, Greg. Stop wasting your dongles. The thing is: they took a thing that single worked and single It made me happy and I replaced it with something that, very often, single bugs out of me. If a friend sent me a YouTube link and I wanted to watch it without disturbing everyone around me, I could use whatever kind of bold, worn headphones I had in my backpack. Now it is a process with a lot of potential points of failure.
“But now it’s waterproof!” Water resistant phones existed before all of this, many of which had / have headphone ports. As a recent example, look at Samsung’s Galaxy S9 with its IP68 rating (which matches that of the iPhone XS).
“But it can be thinner!” No one was asking for that.
“But the batteries inside can be bigger!” Battery capacity barely It jumped in years 6S to 8, from 1,715mAh to 1,821mAh. It wasn’t until a few years later with the iPhone X, when the standard iPhone started getting wider and taller, that we saw huge jumps in battery capacity.
Will this post change anything? Of course, no. Apple sounded the horn that told the industry it’s okay to drop the headphone port, and everyone lined up. The following year, and the year after, Apple sold another 200 million more phones. At this point, Apple doesn’t even bother to give you the headphone adapter in the box. Apple’s mind is made up.
But if you’re out there annoyed stumbling over this post after stumbling across a not-easy pair of headphones and a smartphone to play together in a pinch, just know: you’re not the only one. Two years later, I’m still mad at whoever made this call, and everyone else in the industry who followed suit.