From the Editor's Desk: Sorry, the headphone jack isn't coming back

Galaxy Note 10+ and Galaxy Note 9
Galaxy Note 10+ and Galaxy Note 9 (Image credit: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

Throughout the process of writing the Galaxy Note 10+ review, from our initial first impressions updates to publishing my final definitive version, it was extremely interesting to see just how little outcry there was regarding the loss of the 3.5 mm headphone jack. Be it in the article comments, in our forums, or on Twitter, people had plenty to say about everything ... except the physical audio interface.

Perhaps the headphone jack mourners got out all of their frustration a couple weeks ago when the phone was announced and have shifted to acceptance. Or perhaps, there's a more likely explanation: most people just don't care that much about the headphone jack.

Sure we'd all prefer to have a headphone jack, but you have to see the reality of the situation.

Sure everyone would prefer to have a headphone jack in their phone. When viewed in a vacuum, not taking into consideration the complexities of making a phone that companies have to face, there's no downside to having the port. It's still a useful and completely ubiquitous audio interface. The 3.5 mm jack ends up being the lowest common denominator for getting audio into whatever sort of headphones, speaker, entertainment center, car stereo or other device you need to connect to.

My friend MrMobile makes some great points in his review regarding the headphone jack's usefulness for content creators. They're the people who want to plug in wired microphones for video capture, and also then use no-latency wired headphones for editing. They're probably also the crowd that will appreciate the bump in audio quality from a wired connection.

I'm not at all questioning the usefulness of the headphone jack for some applications. I'm questioning just how many people actually care, and whether that would ever be enough for a company to actually bring a headphone jack back.

The lack of a headphone jack isn't a deal-breaker for not buying the Note 10 or 10+.

The lack of a headphone jack isn't a deal-breaker for not buying the Galaxy Note 10+, nor is it something important enough for most people keep making noise about on any phone. Seeing the way that people choose to buy phones, and how even the most diehard of smartphone enthusiasts discuss them, it's clear that in people's hierarchy of needs when buying a phone the headphone jack is several positions down the list — underneath price, display, cameras, software features, battery life, design and so much more.

Fact is that whether you have a headphone jack available or not, there are many compelling reasons to just go wireless — and most people have. Bluetooth headphones, even cheap ones, are really good — and if you're willing to spend, they're great. You can find a Bluetooth speaker at every single birthday party, barbecue, get-together, beach day or whatever other gathering you're at. Most cars made in the last 10 years have Bluetooth in their stereo systems. Same goes for A/V receivers in home theaters.

Certain people will never be satisfied with wireless, but that group is smaller every year.

Yes Bluetooth has its own problems, but it's reaching the same level of ubiquity, for most people, as the "old" 3.5 mm jack. And of course, wired connections have their own problems. Getting tangled up in cords, having your phone yanked out of your hand or pocket as you walk down the street, and breaking your headphone jack or the headphones' cord are all things that can easily happen.

It's not as though a 3.5 mm connection is free from issues and a perfect audio solution. Different situations call for different audio interfaces, and they each have their trade-offs. And y'know what? If it really comes down to it, you're never completely out of luck — you can just use a USB-C to headphone adapter.

Perhaps the biggest reason to stop the complaints about the headphone jack is that it just ... isn't coming back. Just like the removable battery, the physical home button and so many other hardware features, we're past the point of no return with the headphone jack. Nowhere near enough people have shown the propensity to make a buying decision based on the headphone jack for companies to prioritize keeping it in the phone — let alone adding it back in.

Hate to have to break it to you, but it's the reality of the situation. The headphone jack is gone from phones, and it isn't coming back — and we'll all be okay, I'm certain of it.

-Andrew

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

71 Comments
  • Well I'll be sticking with my note 8 for a lot longer for this very reason. It might not be coming back but that doesn't make me think it's ok or like it.
  • I agree, makes me think more about keeping my Note8 longer
  • That's one of the reasons I bought a pixel 3a. Headphone jack isn't going anywhere except on overpriced devices. Bluetooth earbuds and headphones are an inferior choice. That and they are just another device that needs to be charged. I will continue to use my iPhone 6s, iPhone se and pixel 3a before I purchase an overpriced iPhone or Android device that sucks for the $$$$ The camera on the pixel 3a kills it, and is butter. The 6s and se kill it with my wired headphones while I ride.
  • "The lack of a headphone jack isn't a deal-breaker for not buying the Galaxy Note 10+" For you. I for once can't wait to see your face when Samsung reverts the decision based on user feedback. 'cause I remember the same BS being said about expandable storage and IP ratings when the S6 came out...and then Samsung fixed their stupidity on the S7.
    Same will happen here.
    Deal with it.
  • Yea the article is basically a very long winded troll post
  • Love wireless headphones. Nothing worse than going for a run and the cord getting stuck and pulling the headphones out. Haven't missed the headphone jack in years. 
  • The same could be said for Bluetooth earpieces where the sound goes in and out repeatedly due to poor connectivity. I've jogged with wired headphones before. It's really not that bad once you adjust to it. What do you think everyone athletic did in the days of the Walkman?
  • I got use to the Galaxy Buds that I haven't used the headphone jack on my phone in almost a year
  • USB C is a headphone jack ;) Seriously though, Bluetooth headphones still don't have the quality, but let's be honest: If you are really concerned about audio quality and it's first on your list for reasons to stay wired, you probably won't be listening on a cellphone unless it's an LG or HTC, and you sure won't be listening on an iPhone. I have dozens of headphones, and have been without a built-in 3.5 jack for almost two years, and I don't miss it. USB C does more, and the adapter has a better DAC than most phone internal DACs anyways.
  • Hi Altema22. Interested in your "surely not iPhone" comment for people wanting wireless audio quality. I use an iPhone, the music I play is AAC and my headphones support the AAC codec. Sounds great to me - am I really missing out in better quality vs LG/HTC? What are the reasons?
  • I HATE bluetooth!!! it always drops out at the worst times... on conference calls with my managers. This is my experience with airpods and my 2018 macbook, and Anker BT phones with my android phone. I gave it a shot... no thanks!! Everyone raves about BT headohones... I hate it. I will always chose a headphone jack so long as I have the choice. Its copper wire... you plug it in and it just works.
  • I don't buy flagships. Last week Moto Z3 play was on sale for $200, and I almost jumped... But then I saw no headphone jack, so I passed.
  • And neither are vinyl records.
    Oh, wait ... Yea, the headphone jack isn't going anywhere.
  • I think that there is a future without the headphone jack but I think the smartphone companies took it away too soon.
  • Totally agree with this article
  • "Pixel 3a enters the chat"...... Yeah the headphone jack will be okay for awhile longer.
  • Interesting article. I certainly don't doubt any of the points you raise. I wonder, have you considered the fact that on average, people are keeping their smartphones more than 2 years now? And based on that, perhaps most potential buyers haven't had to deal with a buying decision that lacks a headphone jack? It could be that as more buyers come back onto the market, we'll see the cyclical nature of smartphones swing back to a headphone jack (just like with screen size, dual external speakers, and many other features).
  • I hate anything with wires. Wires get caught on things. The end
  • Do you only ever use wireless charging?
  • How are those large appliances and larger sized electronics devices in your home working out for you when they're not plugged in all day?
  • By staying where they are unless absolutely necessary, that's how.
  • Could be dumb post of the year.
  • I really don't see it being a big deal that everyone is complaining about. Technology changes every year we don't have 8 tracks anymore people need to get over the headphone jack missing.
  • The lack of a headphone jack on U11 was baffling, but on the Note 10 it "isn't a deal breaker". What's changed in technology that makes you change your mind? Is Samsung really paying you guys that much?
  • 😂 I mean. Never say never. The Moto Z4 brought the headphone jack back after the Z, Z2 Force, and Z3 omitted it. And Motorola has a 2019 (low-end) phone with a removable battery.
  • The phone has a niche customer base who cares about that type of thing. Samsung doesnt.
  • I'm tired of Samsung removing features and calling it an upgrade! I'd still like to get back my removable battery and the IR remote blaster so i can control my TVs, like they had on the Note 4. Samsung took away removable storage on the Note 5, and eventually saw the error of their ways and added it back in later models. I hope they do the same with the headphone jack. I skipped out on the Samsung models that didn't have removable storage, and waited until they brought it back before I bought another Android. I absolutely draw the line at the headphone jack! I won't buy another Android device without a headphone jack. Bluetooth headphones are inferior sound quality because codecs are not lossless, and they also add audio latency and need charging all the time. Dongles are cumbersome and flaky. It seems that they've already reached the maximum peak in many parts of mobile phone technology, so that they have to remove features just to make it different, or to make tiny improvements. I'm sorry, but those tiny improvements are not worth the removal of the larger features! I'd much rather have a marginally smaller screen (that also doesn't get covered by my fingers as I try to hold the phone and have a notch or hole cut out of it), than to have the hassle or degraded audio experience of not having a headphone jack. It seems that Samsung is intentionally giving up the hardware advantages it had, just to copy Apple. At this point I might as well go buy an Apple device, and I very well may for my next device. For now holding on to my Note 9 (daily driver), iPhone SE (spare and for music listening), and iPad 2018 which all have headphone jacks!
  • In 10 years, I hope you're still holding onto the headphone jack.
  • The lack of a headphone jack was a deal breaker for me. I was either going to spend too dollar for the Note 10, or buy the S10e for half the cost to tide me over until the next wave of flagships come out. I was just about to pull the trigger on a Note 10 when I realized it didn't have a head phone jack, and thankfully I switched directions. I realize they are different phones (again I almost bought the Note 10 because it was mostly superior), but the S10e didn't break the bank and allows me to hold out for a future flag ship where I won't have to compromise for no headphone jack. I hope the editor is wrong and the jack is still around for the next line of S series phones (and no a dongle adapter isnt the same thing).
  • The s10e will be your phone for a while. It ain't coming back.
  • I'm not going to bother to read the article Andrew, because you are wrong to write this. The headphone jack removal was done purely to push wireless headphone sales. That's it. Nothing else. It's consumer hostile. It forces people to spend more money than they need to. At first they started including the adapter in the box. Now they don't.. Before you know it, there will be no way whatsoever to use a wired headphone with phones.
    Then you'll have no choice but to buy Bluetooth headphones. You basically lost a freedom. Consider also that we don't know the long term effects of using Bluetooth headsets so close to the head. Did you know that holding a mobile phone close to your head had been proven to be detrimental to health, and most likely causes tumours? Did you know Apple includes in its fine print something to that effect to protect them from being sued, and recommend you always use the built in phone speaker when making calls? Please rather use your position at AC to write articles about why it's bad that the jack is removed and put pressure on manufacturers to bring it back. For the sake of freedom, choice and health. Thanks
  • I do love comments that are honest when they say they didn't read the article. But I also appreciate when you read the article before dropping a wall of text in the comments.
  • Although I primary do use BT earbuds, I do like to have the option of plugging in. Especially when I forget to charge them. Plus over time, the batteries get weak and you are forced to buy new ones. My jaybirds suffered this fate. Replaced them with cheap $20 buds. So if I have to replace them every so often, I'm not going to spent a lot of money on them. I'll let the AirPod users figure that mistake on their own.
  • I've been using a Moto Z for almost two years now, and I'm really missing the headphone jack. I have some wireless headphones but nothing is more easy than plug and start playing. I don't know if it is my phone but the wireless headphones almost never connect to my phone automatically. I really wish I could have a headphone jack, because the adapter it's not a comfy way to listen to music...
  • nope its not you... bluetooth sucks from a reliability standpoint.
  • Andrew has been waiting a long time to write this article telling us headphone jack lovers to hush. I'm happy for you.
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  • It's funny android central said the same thing about sd cards! I want a headphone jack, but im learning when i give up my note9 that ill prob have to get a phone w out one.
  • Now would be a good time to invest in some Note 9s. I have a feeling they're going to go up in value in the near future.
  • The value of having the headphone jack will not in any way make up for the loss in value of having an older phone. In a couple years, a Note 9 will be just as cheap as a Note 5 is today. Technology marches on, and nobody is going to want a multi-year old phone just to have a headphone jack.
  • Yup. Can't believe people don't get this. If Samsung moved on, the headphone jack is gone for good. Won't hurt sales either cuz nobody will have them. Except LG and old phones. Let's see how well LG does.
  • I haven't really heard one good reason to remove the headphone jack from phones. It's not like they're adding something new when they remove it. The batteries are no bigger. The speakers still suck. 3.5 mm jacks cost $5, maybe. Likewise, saying, "They're going away because they're going away, so deal with it" doesn't exactly ingratiate you with your audience. There's no real reason to remove it, except to force people into buying wireless stuff that just simply isn't as good. And you can say just use a USB-C adapter, but then you can't charge your phone while listening through headphones. Again, if anyone çan give a good reason to remove it, then I'd be willing to listen. But as of now, there hasn't been. Just keep it, and let consumers decide to go wireless or not while still having the wired option. That's kind of how things in general work anyway.
  • I have to agree, I haven't been given a good reason why it's being removed. I heard about the so-called "space" that is gained when it's removed, but how much is gained? I mean we are talking about a huge phone with a stylus slot. My thing was that the Note has always been the feature-packed phone that was nothing like the iPhone. Stylus, headphone jack, expandable storage, those were the things that set it apart. With the headphone jack removed and expandable storage just about out of the picture also, the Note line is looking more & more like an iPhone as time goes.
  • We lived with headphone jack free phones for a two year cycle for three of us in my family. Never again! One of the big reasons we went with Note 9's most recently was because they were high end phones that had headphone jacks. Looks like we'll be keeping them for a long long time. Though, honestly, I really don't see what else I could expect from a phone beyond what the Note delivers at this point.
  • Bluetooth headphones are a pain in the neck.
  • Alternative for the future of say dedicated DAC like in my LG V30+? Because I truly enjoy the benifits on headphones, vehicles and the seemly better recording abilities.
    Meaning with removing headphone jack does it put in jeopardy these options or focus on audio?
    Appreciate any thoughts
    Thanks in advance
  • Bluetooth earbuds suck. They are unreliable, they need to be constantly charged, and they are way overpriced. There is no reason to defend their removal. Zero. Removing them added no benefits. None. Doing so makes you a shill.
  • Both of my phones have an audio jack, but I haven't used them in months.
  • I use Bluetooth for audio but that said. I have two other hardware devices that attach to my phone using the audio port. One is a radar gun and the other is a weather station. I would not at this time buy a phone that did not have an audio jack.
  • I am a bluetooth earbud user myself, but you can't just go out and say that wires are past. Wireless is good for some occasions, but wired is the champion for others. Adding to what others have already said:
    - Can't charge while listening to audio. No, wireless charging is not a suitable option (yet).
    - Poor reliability, value for money and additional charging are three major drawbacks of bluetooth and wireless. Add the health implications if you want to.
    - Combining the two above, imagine having to listen to something when you need to charge both the phone and the wireless device. Sure, a rare occasion, but still frustrating. No, it's not going to be okay. We will just have to deal with something that the manufacturers are shoving down our throat and SOME of the consumers are okay with.
  • Why there are no decent music making apps in Android and a gazillion in iOS? Because Android's sound drivers suck and have too much lag. Why do you need wired headphones when listening time critic sound? Because Bluetooth lag is too high, for example for playing a music instrument or virtual instrument.
    Bluetooth is not yet a replacement for wired headphones.
  • Once again people seem to think that the android central forum is a large portion of galaxy sells. The younger generation couldn't care less about a headphone jack and its hard to see a parent not buying a teenager a phone because it doesn't have a headphone jack.
  • Agree with the article. It's not going to change the minds of those that really want it to stay, but it's a dying mobile interface whether one likes it or not. Yup there will be some units that will still sport it but they'll become fewer and fewer. You need to make an investment in yet more hardware but once you do it works great(unless you stay cheap cheap cheap then you'll moan about dropouts). Space is too precious.
  • I have the Pixel 3XL and there are times that I do miss the jack. I carry around the dumb dongle, just in case I need it. I would rather the phone have it than not, but it probably isn't going to stop me from buying a phone without the jack. Also, I love how Samsung left a tiny mic hole where the 3.5mm jack was on the 10. It's like a scar that's trying to heal
  • Currently using a Z2 Force. And I hate, Hate, HATE, that I have to carry around a stupid forking dongle. I will absolutely not be replacing this with another jack-less slab of metal.
    There have been several situations where, when presented with the desire to watch or listen to something, I've opted to just go get my Surface instead of dealing with this nonsense. However. Mr. Editor, You are right. Companies will continue to have the "courage" to remove the jack and we will not be numerous enough in our discontent to make that behavior stop. They'll get a lot of dollars, but none of them will be mine. Instead, I will simply flow to the hardware that accommodates my needs.
  • Wouldn't going to find another device when you want to play media be more effort than just using the dongle you said you carry with you? (Just curious).
  • That's the thing. I hate carrying it...so I don't. So if I have to get up to go find the damn dongle, I'll just switch to the device that has a headphone jack.
  • I don't use wired earphones daily, but I do use them a few times a month. I do use them more than pressing the Bixby key. Well, accidentally hitting the Bixby key. When using them, there is usually a reason why I do; Bluetooth headphones are charging or I'm out somewhere and only have my old backup-backup wired set. Just life reasons. There are a number of individuals that don’t use their SPen’s. Should we do away with those also? No, it’s an aspect that makes a feature-packed Note stand out from the others, it has something for everyone. First the jack and the kinda/almost-like removal of expandable storage. The only thing left on the Note10 is the SPen. Remove that and the Note line will be like an iPhone. No wait, I meant to say Galaxy S line.
  • Pay more, get less...
  • non removal battery its not really impact people plus we don't change battery day.but the headphone jack,like me i use everyday.and I don't want to double use the charging port for headphone.have the headphone jack doesn't mean we left behind the future.
  • It seems whenever Apple does something drastic it doesn't take Android that long to try and copy them. Removable batteries, 3.5 Jack and they are trying to get rid of the micro SD card.
  • . C. Vm.. Rz
  • At what point does someone point out that a USB c port is a headphone jack?
  • Is it just me or is this Andrew editor really annoying?
  • I have said before once, and I'll say it again. If a phone does not have a headphone jack it shouldn't be considered an audio device. It should be just that. A phone. Might as well put digital audio players back in the spotlight if this is the future we're heading.
  • I don't want to live on this planet anymore.
  • **** BLUETOOTH
  • I read the entire article, waiting for a valid point. Nope. Just wrong. I was going to get a Note 10 day one. Now the Note 9 lives on, and when i have to replace it, Sammy just told me i can get just as screwed by them as Apple so why not get an Apple? Works better with my Mac anyway, right? Message recieved, we do not want your kind of non-galaxy earbud buying types anyway. Also: usbc is a lovely port. Its not a 3.5 headphone port without a dongle, and again, might as well get an Apple because same thing there. I love my Note 9 so I guess i will see how long it holds up.
  • No headphone jack, no sale!!!
  • I know they make a USB-C to 3.5mm female audio dongle but do they make the opposite? My Note 10 came with USB-C headphones and it would be great the be able to use them on a computer that uses 3.5mm audio ports.
  • Can't wait for Samsung to come back to getting rid of the SD card slot again because "they've decided we don't need it".