Intel Wants 3.5mm Headphone Jacks Gone
Samuel Wan / 3 years ago
Alongside the USB port, one of the most ubiquitous ports found on most devices is the 3.5mm headphone jack. While many of its analog siblings have died out, the 3.5mm jack has managed to stick it out. Its days are numbered though if Apple has their way and it looks like they may have a strong supporter. In a highly detailed proposal, Intel is reportedly trying to get the USB Type-C connector to replace the headphone jack.
Moving to a new type of port makes a decent amount of sense. The 3.5mm jack is getting aged and for the latest devices, it is actually too thick and too large to implement. The port is also pretty dumb and purely analog, lacking support for newer features. Other reasons are the ability to pass along digital audio and provide a cleaner sound. Intel is hoping the upcoming USB Audio Device Class 2.0 specification will provide enough wide-spread compatibility for USB Type-C to take hold.
On the flip side, the audio jack has survived far longer than anyone would have expected. A switch would take many years and require a painful transition away from all current 3.5mm gear. Digital and USB connectors are also more expensive and more prone to hardware and software faults. It remains to be seen if this effort will carry enough momentum to implement a switch.