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OnePlus CEO tries to explain away the headphone jack, but it seems a stretch

Actually, OnePlus, there are still plenty of us who would rather have a headphone jack than in-display fingerprint sensor.

Published onOctober 2, 2018

A screengrab from a OnePlus 6T teaser video.

Last month, OnePlus made its troubling announcement: the OnePlus 6T’s omission of the headphone jack. While this riled the feathers of consumers who found the company’s excuse of “timing” to be unconscionable, OnePlus CEO Pete Lau shared with CNET that ditching the headphone jack affords more room for an in-display fingerprint sensor.

It may be true that the fingerprint sensor occupies nonnegotiable space towards the bottom of the phone, but is it that unfathomable to move — rather than remove — the jack to the top of the phone? No, it’s not.

Let's face it: the OnePlus 6T ditches the headphone jack so we're forced to buy the company's proprietary Bullets Wireless.

Sure, Lau’s reasoning is defensible. Everything in a smartphone takes up precious real estate, and hard decisions have to be made to keep costs down. But the messages OnePlus is giving its customers are getting very confusing.

OnePlus 6T - features, specs, pricing, and everything you need to know
OnePlus 6T back

For example, Lau suspects that users will appreciate that the company is working hard to perfect its wireless charging technology to be on par with current Dash Charging speeds, a beloved OnePlus feature, which requires more space to dissipate heat. However, while the company is taking measures to ensure proper wireless charging, Lau’s response in the CNET article about whether the OnePlus 6T has an official IP rating is a wordier version of “it’s good enough now without an official rating.” And we’re to take him at his word without guffawing?

If OnePlus was removing the headphone jack from the OnePlus 6T to give it wireless charging and an IP rating, we’d be on board. But neither of those features are coming with the 6T.

If the anticipated flagship is anything like the OnePlus Bullets Wireless, the warranty will state somewhere that it “makes no guarantees” about water-resistance and that liquid damage isn’t covered by the warranty. So this feels like just another cash grab.

Headphone jack demand stable YoY as per my Twitter followers. You’d expect it to decrease, no?
— Carl Pei (@getpeid) March 15, 2018

Which brings us to the idea that this isn’t a matter of pleasing the self-reported 59 percent of OnePlus community members who use wireless headphones. No, rather it’s a matter of following the Apple business model: forcing customers’ hands and compelling them to buy a proprietary product like the Apple AirPods or the OnePlus Bullets Wireless to solve a company-designed problem in the name of profit.

In all fairness, this business model has worked wonders for the $1 trillion Cupertino-based company, but it’s also one that thumbs its nose at customer loyalty by pulling the rug from our feet. If we’re loyal to a brand, we should be rewarded with more features; instead, the calculated removal of the headphone jack leaves us yearning for what was once standard. But, hey, at least we have a compensatory in-display fingerprint sensor with which to unlock our phones. What a neat party trick.

NEXT: “Unlock the future”: OnePlus teases the OnePlus 6T