News: OnePlus Ditching the Headphone Jack Leaves Music Lovers with Just 3 Premium Options

OnePlus Ditching the Headphone Jack Leaves Music Lovers with Just 3 Premium Options

If you haven't heard, another big OEM has decided to drop the headphone jack. OnePlus, the hero of the people, has just announced that the OnePlus 6T will not have the popular port. With this decision, audiophiles and others are limited to just three big-name options.

Since news of Apple removing the headphone jack hit the internet, Android OEMs left and right have followed in their footsteps, some even removing the port before them. OnePlus stood tall on the small list of OEMs that didn't follow this trend, opting instead to listen to community outrage. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. And while there are several budget options which still include the port, for phones with the latest and greatest specs, you now only have three choices in the US.

LG and Samsung are the only two companies to still offer the headphone jack on their premium lineup. LG even doubled down on the port by enhancing it with a Quad DAC. Besides them, the only option left is the OnePlus 6, which is the only remaining flagship phone with 2018 specs still supporting the port.

Some Background

Back in 2016, rumors swirled that Apple would be removing the headphone jack. With these rumors, several OEMs decided to jump the gun and beat them to the punch. As the months and years passed, more OEMs followed in Apple's footsteps, similar to what's currently happening with the display notch. And now, two years later, there are hardly any options left.

After announcing the newest iPhones for the 2018–2019 season, Apple quietly removed any iPhone older than iPhone 7 from their store, thereby officially stopping the production of any new iPhone with a headphone jack (you can still buy one used or refurbished). And Apple is no longer including the dongle which converted the Lightning connector to a 3.5 mm headphone jack, forcing users to pay for the dongle, use Lightning headphones, or turn to wireless options.

On the Android side of things, we've seen OEMs fall since 2016 starting with LeEco, Motorola, and HTC. Google actually made fun of the iPhone that year about removing the jack, then removed the port in their Pixel 2 the following year. OnePlus did the same thing as Google, making fun of Apple with previous phones about how they still believe in the headphone jack. However, just like Google, OnePlus is now removing it, announcing the removal to TechRadar. And so as headphone jack fans search for options, we decided to come up with a list of the best flagship smartphones that still still work with a standard set of earbuds.

Option 1: LG G7 ThinQ, V35 ThinQ & the Upcoming V40 ThinQ

When Apple officially ditched the headphone jack, LG was one of the few companies to stay true to the port. However, unlike all but one other OEM, LG decided to double down by enhancing it. And it starts with the Quad DAC.

As much as we appreciated companies such as OnePlus keeping the headphone jack, without an enhanced DAC, it more a convenient feature than an advantage. With the Quad DAC, LG devices such as the G7 ThinQ can drive higher resistance headphones capable of far better sound than what's currently capable with wireless.

Instead of having to max out the volume on your phone to hear your audio, the Quad DAC let you drive the headphones properly, allowing you to use less than half of the volume rocker to output the same actual decibels. Using the Quad DAC is a profound experience, making you question how you have listened to music without it.

Image by Jon Knight/Gadget Hacks

Currently, the best options from LG in 2018 are the G7 ThinQ and V35 ThinQ. The biggest difference between the two is the OLED display found on the V35, while the G7 is stuck with LCD.

However, there is also the V40 ThinQ coming out a few weeks before the OnePlus 6T. The V40 ThinQ has similar specs to the V35 ThinQ, but has five cameras and a set of stereo speakers enhanced using a resonance chamber to create one of the loudest speaker systems on a smartphone.

Option 2: Samsung Galaxy S9, S9+ & Note 9

When news first emerged that Apple would be ditching the headphone jack, several Redditors mentioned switching to Samsung devices, which really isn't a bad option. Thanks to the size and market share of Samsung, they don't have to follow Apple.

For years, Samsung has been acting as the anti-Apple, doing all that they can to offer products that are not plagued by the same criticisms their largest competitor. This includes the display notch, wireless charging (until Apple added the feature), and now, the headphone jack.

For fans of OnePlus, Samsung isn't really a comparable alternative. From a software perspective, you are going almost in the opposite direction with a company that utilizes a pretty heavy skin on top of Android. Updates are few and far between, rooting is nearly impossible, and custom ROMs are virtually non-existent (at least in the US). But it has some glaring advantages over OnePlus (cough screen cough), and it still has its headphone jack, which lacks any form of enhanced DAC.

Image by Jon Knight/Gadget Hacks

Samsung sees Apple as its biggest competitor, with many of their marketing materials poking fun at the Cupertino company's latest product. Therefore, I doubt Samsung takes away this advantage until they need to. And because their sales benefit from including this port, compared to LG, we can be sure Samsung won't ditch the headphone jack in a panic.

For those wanting one of the best phones on the market, the Galaxy Note 9 is your best option. However, if you want a phone closer in price to the OnePlus 6 and 6T, the Galaxy S9 would be a better fit. And for those looking for a phone with comparable screen size, the Galaxy S9+ hits a nice middle ground between the two. The S9+ is almost the same screen size, but has a 1440p display. While it costs a bit more than the OnePlus 6, you also get a bit more.

Option 3: Keep Your OnePlus 6

Finally, you can always keep your OnePlus 6 or upgrade to one from a 5 or 5T. One of the more controversial aspects of OnePlus is their release of two flagships phones per year, with the T series only being marginally better than its predecessor. The 6T is not much different from the OnePlus 6, with rumors suggesting two major changes, only one of which will actually enhance the phone (reducing the notch size).

Image by Dallas Thomas/Gadget Hacks

If you love the price, software, performance, and flexibility of the OnePlus 6, keep it. Until the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 releases next year, it will still be a top-tier flagship. And what's best, you can continue to enjoy your headphone jack until next year when you will be forced to decide between the previous two options.

Is there a chance one of the other OEMs bring it back? Sure. But is it likely? Absolutely not. We are rapidly moving toward a world where the 3.5 mm headphone jack retires to the wayside like mini-HDMI ports and 3D screens. Its is unfortunate, especially with the problems with USB-C audio (check out the video below), that OEMs are moving toward a port-less phone.

In the meantime, for all smartphone users, there is still hope. iOS users are forced to keep much older phones, but for Android, there are still two companies left. And while LG's mobile division problems make me question how long they will last, at least for now, they are still making devices with headphone jacks. And maybe, just maybe, they will get a boost in sales thanks to OnePlus's decision.

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Cover image by Jon Knight/Gadget Hacks

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