Intel Throws Full Weight Behind USB-C To Kill The 3.5mm Headphone Jack

There are plenty of rumors floating around claiming Apple is ditching the 3.5mm port on its next flagship handset, presumably called iPhone 7, in favor of using its Lightning cable port for connecting headphones and earphones, but the Cupertino outfit isn't alone in wanting to banish the traditional audio jack. Intel would like to see the 3.5mm port go the way of the dodo bird, though it wants USB Type-C to replace it.

The Santa Clara chipmaker touched on the subject at its Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco this week, a subject it's talked about before. Company architects Brad Saunders and Rahman Ismail talked about a new USB audio standard that's easy on battery power and outlines how buttons for adjusting volume and pausing playback would work.


Of course, the downside to replacing 3.5mm jacks with USB Type-C is that the market is flooded with audio gear supporting the former, not the latter. You're not going to plug your expensive Beats headphones into a handset with only a USB Type-C port, not unless you forced the issue, and that wouldn't work out well for either device.

On the flip side, there are tangible benefits to replacing the 3.5mm audio jack with USB Type-C. Doing so would pave the wave for slimmer devices, as USB Type-C takes up less volume than 3.5mm jacks. It would also eliminate interference that stems from the analog circuitry of 3.5mm audio, which can get in the way of other electronics in a phone.

Outside of the physical port itself, this would be a switch to digital audio, which has benefits of its own. Audio effects and sound processing options wouldn't require an expensive set of headphones or earbuds.

At this point, it doesn't seem like a matter of if 3.5mm audio jacks are on their way out, but when it will happen.