Following weeks of leaks and speculation, Samsung unveiled its next marquee smartphone yesterday afternoon, the Galaxy Note 10. It’s a phone that is, as far as I can understand, for millennials and Gen Z-ers who either hate the concept of work-life balance or desperately want to become TikTok stars, or both, I guess? Live your truth.
The phone has most of the things you’ve come to expect or might want from a smartphone: it’s got a nice screen, it’s got the latest in Android software, the processor is fast, it’s got a motion-sensitive stylus that pops out so you can scribble. It’s got a very narrow bezel, and a nice camera, and fast charging. It has this cool feature that lets you scan and model 3-D objects and then rig them so that they mirror human motion.
Unfortunately, the Galaxy Note 10 does not have headphone jack. I am sorry to break this news to you. Instead, the Note 10 comes with a USB-C dongle connector that will allow 3.5-millimeter jacks to work with the device. A dongle! The worst word on Earth and the worst tech accessory anyone has ever made. A device conceived by fools and forced on the rest of us, powerless to fight against it.
The Samsung Galaxy line is the last big holdout among marquee smartphones. The iPhone got rid of the jack a little less than three years ago (Samsung used the fact that their phone still had jack at the time as a selling point) and Google’s low-selling but tentpole Pixel line also only features a USB-C connector. Now that all three lines have ditched the connector it seems like the headphone jack isn’t long for this world.
Unlike Apple’s preemptive and defensive 2016 presentation, Samsung didn’t spend any time of its presentation trying to justify the removal. Apparently it frees up space for more battery or whatever.
Admittedly, the headphone jack is antiquated technology, and there are smaller alternatives. Apple justified its removal by emphasizing the space it would free up to make the phone thinner or add other components (the company also reportedly makes four bucks on every individual accessory that has its proprietary Lightning connector, so that’s nice). But the headphone jack was also universal: if you had headphones, they would work with the jack. It was nice, simple. Now we are in a hell wear you either have to have specialty headphones with a specific connection mechanism, or have to remember to charge your headphones — one more thing for me to forget — or use the dongle, which will fray and you will lose. I hate it. (Personally speaking, I tried to be a dongle holdout but have switched to a pair of cheap Bluetooth headphones from Anker. I will be dead and in Hell before I buy a set of AirPods or pay four figures for a smartphone.)
There are still approximately 600 bazillion devices that still feature the headphone jack. A total and complete phase-out, if it ever truly happens, will take years if not decades to truly take effect. And then we’ll be stuck with headphones that are not universally compatible, or rely on batteries that wear out and eventually need to be replaced. The fight to save the headphone jack is over. It sure seems like we lost.