One of the coolest things about the Essential Phone from Andy Rubin and crew is that it has a slick magnetic accessory connector that allows you to expand the capabilities of the device as accessories are launched. One of the worst things about the Essential Phoen for many people who like to listen to audio with headphones is that the device ditched the 3.5mm headphone port (which is a growing and annoying trends with smartphones). That means those fancy and expensive headphones or earbuds that you have been using won't work with the Essential Phone without an adapter.
However, Essential will be offering up a new high-end audio accessory for that magnetic connector that will bring the 3.5mm headphone port back to the mix. Granted, this is something you will have to pay for rather than the phone just having a headphone port built-in like most consumers expect. Word of the new audio accessory came directly from Andy Rubin when he was in a Reddit AMA recently.
Rubin said, "We are under development on a number of Click Connector accessories. The first available should be the charging dock. We are also actively developing a high end audio accessory to support a 3.5mm jack. We are continuing to look at supporting ideas, like cameras."
Essential has always packaged a USB-C to 3.5mm dongle with the device so you can connect your headphones. Rubin didn't give details on the "high-end" audio accessory, but presumably it will have a better DAC and other tech crammed inside. If you have wondered why the 3.5mm port was ditched to begin with, blame the fancy bezel free screen.
"Headphone jacks are pretty big components and they don’t play nice with all-screen Phone architectures. We studied it very seriously, but fitting a headphone jack into our Phone required tradeoffs we were uncomfortable with," Rubin added. "We’d have grow a huge 'chin' in the display and reduce the battery capacity by 10%, or we’d need a huge headphone bump! We decided it was more important to have a beautiful full-screen display in a thin device with solid battery life. Then we made sure we to build ya’ll a high-quality DAC in a tiny adapter that can elegantly live on your headphones."
As for when the accessory might land, we have no idea. All we know is that prototypes are in testing. The Essential Phone is on sale at Sprint today for $700, or you can buy the device directly from Essential. The white version of the phone is still not shipping, but the black one first began making its way to customer in August.