Rediscovering the headphone jack in 2022: It still matters, for 3 solid reasons
I love traveling, and now is the time to do it. The bleak, cold winter has been gone for a while, and if we’re willing to pretend that we still have four seasons – spring is here, and summertime is right around the corner!
Of course, summertime travels don’t just equal laying on a beach and cosplaying as bacon. Or climbing mountains with friends, then showering for an hour, because you’re certain you’re covered in ticks now… Although those sure can be fun experiences!
For me, traveling usually entails visiting friends around the country, and beyond. But most importantly – visiting my parents.
Dad’s cool, but like most dads who didn’t grow up with technology, me and him don’t really share a lot of interests, and the conversation runs dry pretty quickly. No one wants drinking beer in silence, so it’s time to play some music, right? At least that we can all agree on – music is universal, and some genres can defy generational differences, connecting us, despite them.
Well, I’ve equipped my folks with several pairs of speakers, one in almost every room, but those need to be plugged into – you guessed it – a headphone jack. And neither my iPhone 12 mini, nor the Asus ROG Phone 3 I carry around sometimes have one.
Now, when it comes to casual music listening, I’ve long since moved away from wires. My home speakers are fully wireless, and each pair of headphones I own supports both Bluetooth and wired connectivity. So this isn’t an issue at home.
But yeah, everytime I visit the parents or friends, and it’s time to play some background music, I find myself hating the fact that my phones don’t have that legendary audio port anymore. Especially since, apparently, most people I know still use it regularly.
So I ended up getting myself a Lightning-to-3.5mm jack. And this whole ordeal made me think about the good ol’ headphone jack again. And not just from the perspective of a casual user.
Despite having progressively less spare time, I produce and license music on the weekends, and no serious producer will ever tell you that the headphone jack is obsolete.
In fact, here are the top 3 reasons we still desperately need a headphone jack on our phones, tablets and laptops… And I mean all of us who love music, not just the professionals.
3 huge reasons why the headphone jack won’t be obsolete anytime soon
1. The rechargeable battery in your Bluetooth headphones will die someday
It’s pretty freeing to go fully wireless – just charge your headphones, put them on, and start living your life with a soundtrack. No wires to forget about and pull on when you get up for a drink, cracking your phone. But let’s face it, regularly having to charge yet another device – your headphones – can be annoying.
And much more importantly – lithium-ion batteries degrade with time, and all die someday. You know them, those same Li-ion batteries you have in your phone, tablet, or laptop, they’re in your headphones now. Surely you’ve noticed how your smartphone starts holding less charge each year, and maybe you’ve had a phone that just stopped charging altogether one day?
Well, you can have the same expectations for Bluetooth headphones – their Li-ion battery will peace out one day. And on that same day, unless the headphones also offer a wired option, they’d be rendered completely useless. Or yet another repair project you’ll have to attempt – replacing the battery.
However, it’s worth noting that wireless headphones are recharged way less often than smartphones, which bodes well for a battery’s longevity. It’s safe to assume that headphone batteries can, and will last much longer than a smartphone’s battery, unless it defects prematurely.
2. Wired microphone quality is always better than wireless
So, over the last couple of years video and audio calls and conferencing exploded in popularity, for reasons I’m way too tired of talking about by now. Point is, this made me notice something I’ve heard to be true for a while now, but never actually tested before – the wired microphone of your headphones is always going to be better than using their wireless one.If this talk of two mics surprises you, let me explain – most modern wireless headphones also come with an optional wired cable, and that optional wired cable has a microphone built-in. In case you only use them wirelessly, though, headphones also normally have an additional microphone for wireless use, which is traditionally of lesser quality.
Pair that with the lesser quality of Bluetooth audio in general, and indeed – people will hear you better and clearer if you’re using a wired mic. Feel free to test this with your own headphones – sometimes the difference is night and day!
3. Wired audio quality is higher, more reliable, and with lower latency
There are a lot of factors to consider when trying to measure wireless audio quality, and we won’t be going into the technicals. But in order to reduce latency, we can’t really push for the top tier audio bit rates over Bluetooth, while that’s not such an issue with wired audio.
Check out the best phones with a headphone jack in 2022
This new Sony Xperia ain’t skimpin’
So yeah, most mainstream phones, particularly the expensive flagship models, don’t have a headphone jack anymore. Companies just expect you to have wireless headphones or wireless earbuds by now.
However, there are still some exceptions. The Sony Xperia 10 IV we recently reviewed is a brand new flagship that still has a 3.5mm audio jack.
And that’s just one solid, modern option. If you’re looking, check out our “best phones with a headphone jack” list, where we give props to all modern phones we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing, that still have one.
Need help choosing headphones?
The beautiful thing is, at least the headphone manufacturers still think about us – those who want to keep the headphone jack alive. Most wireless headphones made today still have the option to be used with a cable. That includes most of the headphones in our aptly named list: Best wireless headphones in 2022!
So even though most phone makers are slowly (or super rapidly) giving up on the headphone jack, the headphone makers we all know and love, like Sony, Sennheiser and the likes, still appreciate the value it has on headphone buyers.
And it’s always great for us to have options, right? In this case – wired and wireless. Even when those headphones’ batteries die someday, they’ll continue working just fine with a cable.
Stay tuned for our Sony XM5 review
Since we’re on the topic of a better audio experience, and we mentioned wireless headphones that can optionally go wired, you should definitely stay tuned for our review of the newly-announced Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones.
Those have the potential to become my next favorite pair, and I’ll be sure to let you know if they live up to the hype.
Overall, it’s clearly not all bad – we still have both great phones with a headphone jack, and perfectly versatile headphones to use with them. Let’s enjoy the headphone jack while we still can.
And here’s hoping Bluetooth audio quality improves, so that one day, when it’s completely gone, we won’t have to miss the headphone jack.