Apr 27th, 2016

It looks like an industry shift is upon us, folks. Intel — who was one of several companies responsible for the USB Type-C specification — wants to make a big change: laying 3.5mm headphone jacks to rest.

The company expressed their desires to see this happen at the Shenzhen developer forum this week. Their plan is to use USB Type-C as a standard audio port, with benefits being the ability to go with digital audio over analog. That would enable many more possibilities for headphones:

  • They can use their own digital amp instead of having to rely on the amp of a device, meaning the sound of the audio is more consistent no matter which device you’re listening on.
  • Thanks to the increased power USB Type-C provides, headphones can adopt smarter features, such as earbuds recording your heart rate or temperature and instantly transferring the data to your smartphone.
  • Eliminating the 3.5mm jack frees up more space on an already jam-packed motherboard. It would drive costs down and allow manufacturers more freedom in circuitry design.

It all sounds great in theory, but with 3.5mm audio having been the standard for so long Intel’s going to have a tough time trying to achieve full adoption. We wouldn’t expect to see an all-USB world anytime within the next few years, that’s for sure.

But companies are already starting to promote that thinking. HTC’s primary headphones for the HTC 10 use USB Type-C, and LeEco’s latest round of phones all completely ditch the 3.5mm port.

leeco cdla audio usb type-c

We expect other companies to follow suit if USB Type-C audio proves to be the way of the future, but for now we’re not counting out the tried and true connector we know and love.

[via The Verge]

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