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Here's why OnePlus is getting rid of the headphone jack on the OnePlus 6T

OnePlus announced a USB-C variant of the popular Bullets V2 yesterday, and shortly thereafter, the company confirmed that it was getting rid of the headphone jack in its upcoming phone, the OnePlus 6T.

It's a particularly puzzling decision because just four months ago — during the OnePlus 6 unveil — OnePlus took several jabs at Google and Apple for getting rid of the headphone jack on their phones. In an interview with TechRadar confirming the move, OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei said that it was the "right time" to do so:

We found 59% of our community already owned wireless headphones earlier this year - and that was before we launched our Bullets Wireless headphones.We're not doing it for the sake of doing it and because everyone else is. We believe now is the right time, as it'll benefit the majority of our users while keeping the downside low.

That logic is inherently flawed because even if a user invested in a pair of wireless headphones, that doesn't mean they've completed switched away from wired audio. Furthermore, if the responses to Pei's Twitter poll are any indication, a lot of OnePlus customers care about the headphone jack.

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While the move doesn't make much sense considering OnePlus' "Never Settle" motto and its stance on the headphone jack even until four months ago, manufacturing factors outside of the company's control could have had a major role in the decision.

OnePlus doesn't have anywhere nearly the same amount of resources as Samsung, LG, or even Xiaomi, and as such it turns to OPPO for manufacturing and distribution of its phones. The company's main assembly line in Dongguan, China is part of a larger OPPO facility that manufactures the R15 and the F9.

OnePlus sources components from OPPO, and the R17 Pro doesn't have a 3.5mm jack.

OnePlus sources the internal components — including the display and camera modules — from OPPO, and although the OnePlus 6's external design is different to that of the R15 Pro, the internal layout is near-identical. With the OPPO R17 Pro eschewing the 3.5mm jack, it is possible OnePlus had to take a similar stance.

As we've seen from Nextbit, it's incredibly difficult for a new brand to make its foray into the smartphone segment and create a sustainable business. OnePlus simply wouldn't exist today if not for OPPO's supply chain, but the downside is that it is not fully in control of product-related decisions as it relies on OPPO for the components.

And while Pei cited battery life considerations, the removal of the 3.5mm jack is not enough to free up space for a significantly larger battery. The OnePlus 6T is likely to retain a similar design as the OnePlus 6, and the curved back doesn't allow for a larger battery unless OnePlus increases the overall thickness of the device — which it will not do. OnePlus is increasingly looking to differentiate its phones on the design front, and releasing a heavier device with a thicker chassis isn't in the best interests of the brand.

Don't hold out for a 4000mAh battery in the OnePlus 6T.

As such, we're not going to see a 4000mAh battery like the one on the POCO F1, and the only tangible gain from getting rid of the headphone jack would likely be a larger haptic motor. It is possible the OnePlus 6T will offer a marginally larger battery, but most of the improvements around battery life will stem from the software. The 6T will come with Android 9.0 Pie out of the box, and the Adaptive Battery mode should go some way in boosting battery efficiency.

Monetary considerations could also have been a factor in the decision to get rid of the 3.5mm jack. OnePlus built its community around enthusiast users, but as the brand garners more mainstream attention, it is increasingly looking for ways to maximize profits. One way to do that is with accessories, and with the launch of the OnePlus Bullets Wireless and the USB-C Bullets v2, it's clear that the brand is turning to accessories to drive growth.

It's unlikely the removal of the 3.5mm jack will affect sales of the OnePlus 6T.

While OnePlus is still a niche manufacturer in the U.S. — where the unlocked market itself is minuscule — the company has made significant inroads into India and various markets in Europe in recent years.

OnePlus has an aggressive marketing campaign in India and is expanding its retail presence, both of which ultimately add to its overhead when selling phones in the country. And while a vocal minority of users will undoubtedly vent at the brand for getting rid of the 3.5mm jack, the decision is unlikely to hurt sales of the OnePlus 6T. After all, the introduction of a notch was derided four months ago, and OnePlus racked up over a million sales in just under a month of the device's debut.

Although OnePlus' phones aren't as affordable as they used to be, they still represent great value. For instance, the OnePlus 6's retail price of $529 is nearly half that of what the Galaxy Note 9 retails for in the U.S., and the OnePlus 6T will have significant upgrades in several areas.

The 6T will offer an in-display fingerprint sensor, and it is likely we may see three rear cameras, much like the R17 Pro. We could also see new color options and a smaller waterdrop notch that doesn't take up as much space at the top of the display. OnePlus will be hoping that the improvements will be more than enough to assuage potential buyers looking to pick up the OnePlus 6T, but with the brand attracting more and more mainstream buyers, that shouldn't be a problem.

For the rest of us, there's always POCO.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Harish Jonnalagadda

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor covering Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone manufacturers, and writes about the semiconductor industry, storage servers, and audio products. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

63 Comments
  • It's a shame, but not really a surprise. Personally, and I know I'm in a tiny minority (possibly of one) here, but I was far more disgruntled with the removal of the two screws from the bottom of the phone with the 6... Guess if I'm to "never settle" I'll have to stick with the 5.
  • and just like that *snap* the device fell right off of my to buy list. I was excited for it too. smh
  • Exactly what I'm feeling right now...
  • Yup. I was excited when they said it was coming to Tmobile. I'd finally get to experience the amazingness that is a One+ device. Then they got rid of the headphone jack. Sorry, not gonna happen
  • We found 59% of our community already owned wireless headphones earlier this year - and that was before we launched our Bullets Wireless headphones. Does the existence of an headphone socket impede the performance of wireless headphones in anyway?
    If you care about your "Community" let them have a bloody choice in which type of headphones they prefer to use on any given day.
    The explanation given is risible! Frankly a couple of Russians flying to the UK with the sole purpose of visiting an English provincial town cos its church had an old clock then being thwarted in their endeavours by drizzle seems
    more plausible.
  • "Never Settle" people. "Never Settle". I don't know why people still take this crappy Chinese OEM seriously.
  • Because T Mobile does.
  • So the real reason is since it's basically the same hardware from the other phone, OnePlus couldn't change it for theirs. Got it.smh That's what happens when you borrow hardware. It's a shame but I guess people will adapt. Not about that dongle life just yet so if I were to get the 6T I'd probably invest in some premium Bluetooth headphones like Bose or something.
  • Thank you for removing it. It's time all the whiners moved on to the future or get another phone. Just let it die. There are new usb C headphones. Quality bluetooth with aptx HD and you won't worry about sound quality or being leashed to the phone. There are adapters for your existing fancy headsets that you can just leave on the headphones. If you're an audiophile that still won't be satisfied, it's time to find another phone that's as niche as you are. Add more battery, better speakers instead, better microphone, etc. instead.
  • Yes, maybe if manufacturers added all those improvements it would be a reasonable trade-off. But odds are they won't and just brag about how they made the phone thinner.
  • Exactly this. They don't act on a single one of their claims about having reasons to remove it.
  • I'm no headphone jack diehard but nothing you listed is impossible while keeping the jack and none of those things trend more in phones released without it. So all they're doing is dropping a feature that in no way impedes the use for those who prefer wireless with zero compensation for doing so. I'm all for being convinced to ditch the jack but not a single person or company has been able to provide a single beneficial reason to do so. Everything stated about it is either a statement of how to deal without it or mentioning change for the sake of change. Batteries don't trend larger specifically in jackless phones, nor does waterproofing or stereo speakers. If the benefit is cost then they should say it. As someone willing to live without the jack for the right reason, it seems no one can provide a single one.
  • Very well said.
  • You fell for the Apple BS. You probably think it's "courage" too don't you? LOL
  • Bluetooth sound quality is inferior. Not because of the transmission protocol, but because the DAC in the headphones is never as good as the one in the phone or the adapter. I always use the wire on my BT headsets when I care about the quality.
  • As an audio visual tech by trade I have to have a headphone jack on my device period. Why not let us have a choice? The amount of things that I have up carry is enough. I'd lose a dongle in 2 seconds.
  • Mate 20 is rumoured to have the head phone 3.5 so that's where my money is going
    Why would I want wireless headphones that have a short battery life and would probably be flat when I wanted to use them, most people I see have the USB adapter so are still wired
  • Never settle for less. Charging more and getting less premium features, way to go one plus. You say 59% of consumer's use bluetooth headphones but still not as good as wired headphones?
  • A headphone jack isn't a premium feature.
  • If the thing drops with a 3800mah battery (which I think is what it's Oppo cousin has) I'm fine letting go of the headphone jack.
  • I already have a phone with a 4000 mAh battery, AND a headphone jack, And USB-C, AND an IR blaster. And it all fits nicely with a 5.9 inch screen...16:9 at that! Huawei Mate 10 (non-pro). 6t just died before even being released.
  • ^^^THIS!!!^^^ Mate 9 as well!
  • Maybe so, but you'd likely be looking at some substantive form factor changes (I owned a Mate phone, too... they're great phones but theres a reason they're so big & bulky). This is an issue that everyone will have different feelings on, but for me .. I'd happily give up a headphone jack for a battery bump.
  • I won't buy a phone that has no headphone jack.
  • Better nurse whatever you have now then
  • *shrugs* OP doesn't want my money. That's fine. I'm off to LG. I'd rather get the OnePlus 6t, but I have $400 in audio gear and I'm not ready to axe them or be kept from charging my phone because some idiot company needs to Ape Apple.
  • OK I'm kinda pissed OP has pulled the exact same move Google pulled, bragging how they have kept it with the Pixel only to axe it the next year in the P2. However, if you really have good audio gear you are not plugging it into the OP headphone jack. I used to be a V series owner purely for the DAC. But their no updates forced me back to OP and in order to satisfy my music needs I bought a NextDrive Spectra USB-C DAC. Sounds as good or better that the LG DAC and now I have a decent phone also. Just my 2 cents.
  • Is using an adapter that difficult? Everyone assumes you need to buy wireless headphones.
  • I often use headphones and a charging cable at the same time. All splitters have not had great feedback so doing it from one port is a big drawback for seemingly zero gain.
  • Atypicaluser - no, it's not difficult at all, and actually sounds better than most built-in jacks if you get one that's hi-res audio certified. I got two extras and just leave them on the end of the cable for my two favorite headsets, and keep the original in my laptop bag. It's been over a year now, and I have never had to stop using my headphones in order to charge.
  • Sad to see it go , but come on now you had to know it's going bye-bye sooner than later. And also the Pocophone is a no go for is in the U.S. .
  • This is so stupid. They say they are doing it to benefit the 59% who already use wireless headphones, but it's not benefiting them since they can still use their wireless headphones on a phone with a headphone jack. What they really are doing is hurting the 41% who use wired headphones because you can't use wired headphones (with the popular headphone jack connection) on a phone without a jack! Not to mention that if you have USB-C headphones, you can't listen and charge at the same time. You also have to worry about charging wireless headphones.
    This is completely about money and making people buy their wireless headphones and dongles.
  • More of a supply chain issue
  • I'm fine without the jack if there's a single beneficial reason to do so. I'm not seeing it. Everything wireless is possible with it, I'm not seeing bigger batteries or better waterproofing from dropping it.... What's the trade off? I understand I can get around it with wireless headphones but that's not a benefit. I can use those on phones with a jack. What exactly am I gaining in a jackless phone that's not possible with one?
  • This is exactly why there is NOT an argument for removing it at all.
  • I don't see a problem here. Only thing that would be nice is that they certify the phone to be IP68 since they'll be removing the headphone jack. I have the 5T and I've never used it, I use a bluetooth headset I got off Amazon and I get 4 hrs battery life, more if you turn it off when you're done using them. I've even put an abs plug in the headphone jack to prevent dust and water damage. As for sound quality, no issues at all whatsoever. Just don't skimp on buying cheap bluetooth headsets and you'll be fine. For those that are being little babies about it move on then, go buy something else.
  • Pfft. IP68 certification is very much possible with or without the headphone jack.
  • Note 8 has IP68 or whatever and still retains the headphone jack so your point doesn't hold water. Sorry
  • For money, mystery solved! Close the internet.
  • Exactly
  • As expected. But, as Bluetooth gets better this shouldn't be a problem... Except that most Bluetooth headset are on 4.2, while most flagships are on 5.0....and still suffers from dropouts.... But wait we have dongles! That are not universal for audio solutions nor high quality, unless you count the Google adapter. Even then, still not the highest of quality. That not withstanding, I will recommend it to my friends. One plus devices have been improving. Now if they can just switch to QHD+.....
  • Never had an issue with my Bose Sport BT headset.
  • Not seeing the trade-off here..
  • I enjoy my 5t and was looking to my yearly upgrade cycle. I think the 5t was the last enthusist phone. My only issue is band71 for tmo. starting with the 6 and easily broken back, now removing the ultra fast fingerprint sensor and the headphone jack this has ceased being a phone and now is a piece of jewelry. I just bought my in law an LG v30thin q and well it is still a phone and only 300 off eBay. I guess I will sell my 5t pocket the difference and get the lg. The only thing that makes me cringe is lg is in the basement with updates.
  • Welp, looks like my next phone will be a Samsung. It was nice knowing you, OP.
  • I love my 6. I got rid of my S9 for it.
  • I currently use a Moto Z Play, so I rarely run into a situation where I need to charge while I'm listening to music. because the battery is great. I've definitely had my eye on OP and was thinking about upgrading to the 6T especially with TMO getting it. If the battery life is close to the Z Play, then the lack of headphone jack doesn't concern me. Plus, the times I'm using headphones are usually when I'm on the go and wouldn't be able to charge anyway.
    Side note on something in this article, I still don't get the need for razor thin phone. People really wouldn't trade a little extra weight for better battery life?
  • This is a sad… sad… news.
    I ditch apple because of the dreaded notch and removal of the headphone jack. But i guess oneplus can't help it, due to their supply source. I was going to switch over to 6T (smaller acceptable notch) as my daily driver from my S9+, but guess i have to hold off on that till i get my hand on a pair of wireless bullet and try it out. There is indeed different between wire and wireless headphone~ im sure there are other who notices it as well. Its not time for the headphone jack to be extinct yet.
  • Was looking forward to this dropping on T-Mobile... NOT ANYMORE!!! This device is still born now. No headphone jack & a curved back?!? Ever tried to DO ANYTHING on a smartphone with a curved back lying on a table?? Wobble wobble wobble...
  • This still doesn't answer the one big elephant in the room: Why do laptops still have a headphone jack? Why do tablets still have a headphone jack? Why do game controllers still have a headphone jack? Why do TVs still have a headphone jack? Yet smartphones are the only tech that make this exceptions. This doesn't make any sense.
  • Because innovation. Screw utility.
  • Like! I don't get it either
  • While this is a very late reply. First and foremost that "headphone jack" on a tv is because some soundbars have a line out and it acts as a line in. Almost all those devices you mentioned are not typically as mobile as a phone is and usually will be used with something wired to begin with potentially even plugged into a wall outlet (outside of the tablet)
  • They look like such fools spouting crap about benefiting users. I would have actually respected them had they just said "We didn't have a choice". Bad move OnePlus. Bad move.
  • As a professional conspiracy theorist I suspect that, because the headphone jack allows you to circumvent DRM, the media companies may be "encouraging" phone makers to drop it. Currently you can use a simple jack to jack cable to plug a phone into a PC and make a DRM-free recording of whatever you like. As time goes on fewer and fewer people will have USB-C to jack adaptors and eventually DRM clampdown will be all but complete.
  • I have dole old drm free songs they work perfectly for now! Hope this theory is false
  • That's a reach. I'm sure the majority of users have never had that thought.
  • « that doesn't mean they've completed switched away from wired audio » Well if they buy the phone they know it has no headphone jack so they are ready to switch away from wireless audio. If phones keep it they will be no incentive to get better wireless headphones. Time to get over it. Apple did it. Google made fun of them and did it after. Oneplus made fun of them both and did it also,... it is kind of funny :)
  • Thankfully Samsung didn't do it and I'm sticking with them for having the balls.
  • They will do it eventually :)
  • FWIW..Just spoke to a trusted TMobile employee who volunteered confirmation of an October 16th or 17th release date for the 6t. TMO will carry the 6gb/64gb variant for "about $550" ad the 8gb/128gb for "around $579". If true, this means no down pmt for TMO customers
  • And just like that OnePlus has become any other boring brand. I'm still rocking a OP3 because it never breaks and never slows down, but my next phone won't be a OP anymore sadly.
  • It's finally time for us to Settle Thank you!