USB-C on the $350 Surface headphones

I spend an ungodly amount of time searching for products to buy online — I am not complaining about that, it's a rare thing to get paid for being an obsessive shopper — and of the things I spend my off-hours hunting for, none have burned my patience and time like the hunt for Bluetooth headphones. No, I'm not an audiophile, not even close, but I am someone who refuses to leave home without headphones, and nothing is worse than being hours from home when that dreaded BATTERY LOW warning blares like an air raid siren.

I don't just want to charge my headphones on the go, I need to charge my headphones on the go, and the utter dearth of USB-C-charged headphones is driving me insane.

My pretties

Meet my "daily driver" headphones: the Bluedio A2 Bluetooth headphones. They're just OK sound and the controls aren't great, but I live with them for three reasons: they look cute as hell, they fit my head well, and they charge over USB-C. I bought them for $29 on a Lightning Deal, and since I haven't been able to find them on Amazon for the last few months consistently, I finally broke down and bought a backup pair on GearBest for $50 so that — heaven forbid — the first pair breaks, I will still have a pair to rely on.

It's impossible to even search for headphones that charge over USB-C.

I did this because I've searched for over 30 hours on pretty much every retailer I trust, and not only is it impossible to find another pair of headphones that looks decent, fit my small head, and charge over USB-C: it is impossible to even search for Bluetooth headphones that charge over USB-C. If you search for "Bluetooth headphones USB-C", you get a mix of cheapo wired USB-C headphones, some no-name earbuds, or $400 tanks that charge over USB-C. You'll also see tons of reasonably-priced, reasonably-sized headphones that still charge over Micro-USB.

There are a lot of reasons manufacturers can give for wanting to stick to Micro-USB, and in 2017, they might've even made sense, but less so in 2019:

  • Everyone still has Micro-USB cables to charge it with. Yeah, and I've got some mini USB cables banging around in a drawer, but that doesn't mean I want to dig out old cables to charge new headphones, especially since a pair of headphones tends to last me 2-4 years.
  • Using USB-C would just lead to confusion about charging/data profiles. Admittedly, USB-C can be a little daunting because USB-C can be used for both audio data and powering/charging a pair of headphones, and many USB-C-charged headphones on the market right now can't charge over Power Delivery chargers, only USB-C to USB-A cables. So long as you clearly state what your headphones support in their product listing and user manual, that's no reason not to use USB-C.
  • USB-C is too expensive to bother changing to yet. Again, a good pair of headphones can last years and years, and even if Micro-USB doesn't seem completely and utterly outdated right now — which it absolutely does — why would you force users to carry an extra charging cable for your headphones when their phones switched to USB-C two or three years ago?

The Bluetooth headphones market has been a race to the bottom for years already, and raising the price a few dollars to accommodate the more expensive USB-C port and charging/data profiles can seem like a non-starter, but consider how few USB-C-charged headphones are out here right now. Having USB-C can also help a pair of headphones stand out from the pack.

I need more of these

With more and more users looking to ditch the old Micro-USB and only carry one cable to charge phone and headphones alike, whether they're off for another day of schoolwork and side jobs or off on a vacation in some far-flung corner of the world, the industry needs to rise to the demand and move more headphones to USB-C. Finding USB-C-charged headphones you like shouldn't feel like winning the lottery, and so long as it does, I'll keep looking for diamonds in the rough, waiting for something to shine that doesn't cost a king's ransom.

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