It’s almost the middle of 2018 and we’ve been living with phones without headphone jacks for nearly two years now. And it still sucks as much as ever. But while Apple may have brought the idea to the mainstream, living with an Android phone without a headphone jack is even worse than dealing with it on an iPhone.
While Apple’s decision to remove the headphone jack remains user hostile and stupid, there are accessories available to help the situation. Beyond the basic adapter Apple includes in the box, there are third-party headphones with Lightning connectors and various splitters that let you plug in headphones and a charging cable at the same time. This Belkin model has poor customer reviews, but I own it and it’s worked great in my experience.
Over in the Android world, it’s a completely different story. Android phones without headphone jacks rely on their USB Type-C ports to output audio, which in theory should mean a plethora of cheap adapters and splitters would be available.
Reality is far different from theory, though. Not only is there a complete dearth of USB-C headphones worth buying, there’s not a single adapter that lets you plug in standard 3.5mm headphones and a charging cable at the same time. Just this week, Android Police reported that Google quietly pulled the listing for the one adapter it had in its online store without ever selling it. The product is also unavailable on the manufacturer’s website. According to Android Police, a few units did ship from Amazon, but the reviews were so bad that the product was quickly pulled.
There are a bunch of cheap adapters on Amazon with terrible ratings or weird qualifiers like not working with Google Pixel phones or HTC devices. I ordered one about a month ago from China, which finally arrived this week and it has loud, crackly static that comes over the 3.5mm jack, rendering it completely useless. Sony is the only phone maker I’ve found with the right adapter listed on its website, but I’ve been unable to find that for sale anywhere. There is just nothing like the Belkin model for iPhones that I linked above for phones with USB-C.
This situation makes using an Android phone without a headphone jack a huge pain in the ass in a car; you either have to use Bluetooth to wirelessly connect, which brings its own basket of pain (especially if you share a car with another person), or hope that your battery has enough juice to last wherever you need to go while providing music and navigation on your journey. Forget about running Android Auto on your phone and piping music through your sound system, because your battery will never make it.
The solution to this problem is laughably easy: phone makers have to either put headphone jacks on their phones or make sure that the adapters made for dealing with the situation are actually available for their devices, by either making them themselves or partnering with another company to do it.
Anything less is not just user hostile and stupid, it’s insulting.