Browse by Section

Bright Pixels Monogram

USB-C vs. the Headphone Jack

Manton Reece on whether Apple’s decision to move away from USB-A and the 3.5mm headphone jack are the same:

USB-C is a standard that is already used in many devices from different vendors. It will become universal. The immediate replacement for the 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7 is the Lightning EarPods which come in the box. Lightning is a proprietary cable that will never be used in non-Apple phones, and in fact is not even used on Macs.

You can argue that more and more people will use Bluetooth headphones, but I doubt they will be as common as wired headphones for many years, and there’s no guarantee that an all-wireless future will ever arrive. There is a very clear migration from USB-A to USB-C. The move to Lightning headphones and Bluetooth is much more complicated and not directly comparable.

I’m in favor of Apple’s move to nix the headphone jack, but even I can’t claim that these two things are the same. As Manton himself says, “It’s a convenient narrative”, but a false one. USB-C truly is the future, and the capabilities this one cable has is remarkable. More importantly, it’s an open standard.

The wireless push that Apple made is hampared by it all being powered with a proprietary chip. The magic they’re selling is only accessible to you if you’re in the market for over-priced headphones.

While the push for USB-C is one that is beneficial for everyone, the removal of the headphone jack is only for people who are already committed to an Apple ecosystem. If Apple was really interested in making wireless better for everyone, they would’ve worked on improving Bluetooth. While I’m not excited by the cognitive load of figuring out how USB-C will work for my needs, I’m not about to complain when Apple supports an open standard. 💯, Apple.