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Rediscovering the headphone jack in 2022: it still matters, for 3 solid reasons

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I love to travel, and now is the time to do it. The bleak, cold winter has been over for a while, and if we’re willing to pretend we have four seasons left – spring is here and summer is just around the corner!

Traveling in the summer doesn’t equal lying on the beach and cosplaying like bacon. Or mountain climbing with friends, then shower for an hour, because now you know for sure that you are covered in ticks… Although those can also be fun experiences!

For me, travel usually means visiting friends across the country and beyond. Most importantly, visit my parents.

Dad’s cool, but like most dads who didn’t grow up with technology, he and I don’t really share many interests, and the conversation heats up pretty quickly. Nobody wants to drink beer in silence, so it’s time to play some music, right? We can all agree on that: music is universal and some genres can defy generational differences and still connect us despite them.

Well, I’ve equipped my parents with several pairs of speakers, one in almost every room, but they need to be plugged into – you guessed it – a headphone jack. And not mine either iPhone 12 mini, nor the Asus ROG Phone 3 I sometimes wear one.

Now, when it comes to casual music listening, I have long since moved away from wires. My home speakers are completely wireless and every pair of headphones I own supports both Bluetooth and wired connectivity. So this is not a problem at home.

But hey, every time I visit the parents or friends, and it’s time to play some background music, I find myself hating that my phones don’t have that legendary audio port anymore. Mainly because apparently most people I know still use it regularly.

So I ended up getting a Lightning to 3.5mm jack. And this whole ordeal reminded me of the good old headphone jack again. And not just from an occasional user’s perspective.

Despite having less and less free time, I produce and license music on the weekends, and no serious producer will ever tell you that the headphone jack is outdated.

These are the top three reasons why we still urgently 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 eventually run out

It’s quite liberating to go completely wireless – just charge your headphones, put them on and start living your life with a soundtrack. No cables to forget and pull on when you get up for a drink and crack your phone. But let’s face it, regularly charging yet another device – your headphones – can be annoying.

And more importantly, lithium-ion batteries deteriorate over time and all die in one day. You know them, those same Li-ion batteries that you have in your phone, tablet or laptop are now in your headphones. You’ve probably noticed how your smartphone charges less every year, and maybe you’ve had a phone that one day doesn’t charge at all?

Well, you can have the same expectations of Bluetooth headphones – their Li-ion battery will settle down one day. And on that same day, unless the headphones also offer a wired option, they would become completely useless. Or yet another repair project you should try – battery replacement.

It’s worth noting, though, that wireless headphones charge much less often than smartphones, which bodes well for battery life. It’s safe to assume that headphone batteries can and will last much longer than a smartphone battery unless it fails prematurely.

2. The quality of the wired microphone is always better than wireless

So in recent years, video and audio calls and conferences have become hugely popular, for reasons I’m way too tired to talk about right now. The thing is, this made me notice something that I’ve heard for a while to be true, but never tested before – your headphones’ wired mic will always be better than using their wireless ones. If this is about two microphones, let me explain – most modern wireless headphones also come with an optional wired cable, and that optional wired cable has a built-in microphone. However, if you’re only using them wirelessly, headphones usually also have an extra microphone for wireless use, which is traditionally of lower quality.

Couple that with the lower quality of Bluetooth audio in general, and indeed – people will hear you better and clearer if you use a wired microphone. Feel free to test this with your own headphones – sometimes the difference is night and day!

3. The wired audio quality is higher, more reliable and with lower latency

There are many factors to consider when measuring wireless audio quality, and we won’t get into the technicalities. But to reduce latency, we can’t really aim for the highest audio bit rates over Bluetooth, while that’s not much of an issue with wired audio.

Check out the best phones with a headphone jack in 2022

So yes, most mainstream phones, especially the expensive flagship models, no longer have a headphone jack. Companies just expect you to have wireless headphones or wireless earbuds now.

However, there are still some exceptions. The The Sony Xperia 10 IV that we recently reviewed is a brand new flagship that still has a 3.5mm audio jack.

And that’s just a solid, modern option. If you’re looking, check out our “best phones with a headphone jack”, where we give props to all the modern phones we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing and which still have one.

Need help choosing headphones?

The good thing is that at least the headphone makers are still thinking about us – those who want to keep the headphone jack alive. Most wireless headphones made today still have the option of being used with a cable. That includes most of the headphones in our aptly named list: Best wireless headphones in 2022!

So while most phone makers are slowly (or super-fast) giving up the headphone jack, the headphone makers we all know and love, like Sony, Sennheiser and the like, still appreciate the value it brings to headphone buyers.

And it’s always great for us to have options, right? In this case – wired and wireless. Even if those headphones’ batteries die one day, they’ll still work just fine with a cable.

Stay tuned for our Sony XM5 review

Since we’re talking about a better audio experience and we mentioned wireless headphones that can be optionally wired, be sure to 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 I hope the Bluetooth audio quality improves so that one day, when it’s completely gone, we won’t have to miss the headphone jack.

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