Is This the Demise of the 3.5mm Audio Jack?
The 3.5mm jack has become one of the most basic pieces of technology in the digital world today with almost everyone knowing what it is and what it is used for. The audio jack first came about in the late 19th century when people operated the telephone switchboards. These original, large designs were one-quarter of an inch (or 6.35mm) and are still in use today but they are less common than the widely used approximately one-eighth of an inch 3.5mm audio jack (Grover, 2015). This technology was revolutionary at the time as it allowed people to get in contact with each other with the help of the people in the telephone exchange who used these 6.35mm jacks to connect callers. Since this time, this type of audio jack has grown immensely in popularity.
The introduction of Sony’s first Walkman, the TPS-L2, saw the 3.5mm jack connected to a pair of headphones become a necessary piece of electronics for the masses as the companies’ new product gained popularity (Wells, 2016). In the years that followed many other companies added 3.5mm audio ports to their products. The number of products with these ports only increased with the introduction of the MP3 player and later mobile phones that had the capability to hold music and therefore play this through headphones. While many companies tried to rival this design with their own audio ports, such as Samsung with their 20-pin connector and Sony Ericsson with their own FastPort (Eden, 2016), the 3.5mm audio jack and port design held strong to be one of the most used audio connectors within many electronics worldwide due to its universal nature.
Although this technology has been around for nearly two centuries, it seems that it may be losing traction in today’s constantly advancing world. With the likes of multi-national companies such as Apple announcing that their new flagship phone, the iPhone 7, does not have a conventional audio port but instead uses the Lightning Port or wireless Bluetooth connection for headphones (Thielman, 2016), it’s clear that the 3.5 audio port may be fighting a losing battle. Also, with USB-IF, the group behind the USB connector standard, having recently announced the Audio Device Class 3.0 specification which offers a more specific set of instruction on how to transfer audio over USB Type-C ports which has over taken micro USB ports in many new Android phones such as Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7, it could be possible that Android phones could be the next pieces of technology to rid themselves of the audio port to achieve a slimmer design (Triggs, 2016).
This seems to be the first time in its lifetime that the humble 3.5mm jack has truly been rivalled. This truly could be the end of this type of audio connection.
- Eden, T. (2016). A Brief History of Killing the Headphone Jack. Terence Eden’s Blog. Available at: https://shkspr.mobi/blog/2016/06/a-brief-history-of-killing-the-headphone-jack/ [Accessed 3 October 2016].
- Grover, D. (2015). How was the 3.5 mm audio jack developed and standardized?. Quora. Available at: https://www.quora.com/How-was-the-3-5-mm-audio-jack-developed-and-standardized [Accessed 3 October 2016].
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- nojack-750×400.jpg. (2016). [image] Available at: http://tapsmart.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/nojack-750×400.jpg [Accessed 3 October 2016].
- Thielman, S. (2016). iPhone 7 launch: Apple gambles on headphone jack and introduces new Apple Watch. The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/07/apple-iphone-no-headphone-jack-second-generation-watch [Accessed 4 October 2016].
- Triggs, R. (2016). USB publishes new Audio Class 3.0 spec for phones without a 3.5mm jack. Android Authority. Available at: http://www.androidauthority.com/usb-publishes-audio-class-3-0-spec-719505/ [Accessed 4 October 2016].
- Wells, G. (2016). The History of Headphones. WSJ. Available at: http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-history-of-headphones-1473274924 [Accessed 3 October 2016].