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If this rumor is true, you can say goodbye to bundled headphone dongles soon

Speculation suggests Apple won't ship free 3.5mm headphone jack adapters with its next iPhones — and Android OEMs may follow suit.

Published onMay 2, 2018

  • A recent rumor suggests Apple may not include a Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter with its next iPhone.
  • The dongle was previously supplied with iPhones that lacked the traditional 3.5mm headphone port.
  • If Apple stops supplying these adapters with its iPhones this year, Android OEMs will likely do the same in 2019 and beyond.

When Apple dropped the 3.5mm headphone port from its iPhone 7, it spelled doom for headphone ports on Android. When it introduced a display notch on the iPhone X, copycats followed as expected.

If a recent rumor that Apple will drop the headphone dongle from its next flagship is accurate, you can bet the next round of Android flagships will do the same.

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According to MacRumors, Barclays analyst Blayne Curtis — who went against the grain in 2017 to (correctly) predict that the adapter would still arrive with the iPhone 8 series — is tipping that the dongle will be M.I.A. on the upcoming iPhone.

The headphone adapter bridges the gap between the classic 3.5mm jack, found on the overwhelming majority of headphone products, and the Lightning / USB Type-C port that many smartphones now use for audio transfer. These dongles can be purchased online, but they are typically supplied with handsets that lack the traditional 3.5mm headphone port.

The USB Type-C port of the HUAWEI P20 Pro.

With wireless headphone products on the rise in popularity, however, this type of wired connection is becoming less relevant and, crucially, less profitable. Companies that sell wireless headphones — like Apple, Google, Sony, and many other smartphone makers — have an incentive to move away from the previous tech as they sell more expensive wireless options to consumers.

Apple’s moves typically spearhead industry changes: HUAWEI, for example, claims it had the notch idea years ago, but it only pursued it following Apple’s usage of it on the iPhone X. If the Cupertino company does decide to drop the adapter this year, from 2019 onwards, Android manufacturers may seize the opportunity to make some cash by selling adapters as an optional accessory only.

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This isn’t such a dramatic problem in terms of costs for most consumers — these adapters can be picked up for between $5-$10 anyway (even Apple-branded ones). OEMs may also include USB Type-C compatible headphones with their smartphones, so you’d have at least one option for music listening out-of-the-box.

For many smartphone users, though, listening to music on their favorite wired headphones is highly desirable — and forcing those users to pick up an adapter elsewhere, for the sake of the few cents they cost to manufacture, is going to rightly frustrate them.

Where do you stand on the matter? Will Apple drop dongles this year and will Android OEM’s be next? Give us your thoughts in the comments.

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