Getting less for more: say goodbye to the headphone jack

A wireless world is a vision many have had for decades, and is something that’s come true in many fields. Wifi, cellular, GPS and the internet all capitalize on this vision and have transformed the way the world works. This is progress, something that continues no matter the opposition it’s facing.

And while resisting the changes brought forth by the wireless world will prove to be useless, it doesn’t mean consumers should sit back and allow terrible changes in hopes of innovation.

The latest sacrifice to meet the wireless world is the headphone jack. Removing the headphone jack was promoted as something beneficial to consumers and technology. Apple promised a thinner phone with a smaller battery and larger display. They delivered on all of these, though a phone becoming paper thin seems pointless when sacrificing battery life. Google promised the same results in their Pixel 2, but failed miserably in regards to enlarging the screen size.

The headphone jack removal is part of a bigger problem that is present in almost all consumer goods.

The “sell less for more” trend is looming over a wide array of markets. Suddenly clothes which feature rips or jean shorts cost more than the same jeans without those cuts in product. The Taki bag you buy seems to have more air than actual Takis, and toilet paper now has an extra sheet in a roll but two less rolls in the bag while costing more than ever.

The trend has come to laptops recently too, with Apple removing the USB port on their new Macbooks to make it thinner, again making the battery life smaller. But the inconvenience of the removal of such ports is even worse for consumers.

The uproar regarding the removal ceased almost immediately when the public realized they can just buy wireless headphones. Problem solved right? Only if consumers enjoy charging their earbuds for up to three hours in exchange for only 12 hours of use. But my question is why?

There was no problem with the previous set up of simply plugging in a 3.5 millimeter headphone jack and listening to music as long as the phone’s battery is charged. For those who refuse to purchase wireless headphones, the solution is more complication.

Apple’s “fix” to this, the “dongle,” is some of the most convoluted technology ever created, and is a poor alternative to the headphone jack, especially when the company endorsed the removal with the promise of a wireless alternative.

The next issue is in battery life. Battery storage is notoriously terrible. So terrible that the creator of the lithium ion battery which is used in every electronic device, John B. Goodenough said “when I created it (lithium ion batteries) I saw they weren’t great, but were better than what we had previously.”

If his last name is anything to go by, it’s simple to realize that batteries of today are old technology that were just good enough when made in the 1980s.

The removal of the headphone port forces consumers to rely on dodgy battery technology that has no improvement in sight. Not only is the modern lithium-ion battery inefficient, it degrades quickly too.

Removing the small 3.5 millimeter jack puts consumers in a tight spot: do you use your wired headphones but use the annoying dongle or buy wireless headphones — maybe even the shiny Apple EarPods ($150) or a pair of Beats by Dre, which are owned by Apple? If neither are an option, then simply buy a pair of wireless headphones anyways, but be forced to replace them in one to two years.

This trend, while annoying, is the future we can’t seem to escape. Wireless is the way to go in a future of bluetooth, the cloud and Wifi systems handling data connections for people. But this transition is a messy one.

Battery technology isn’t ready to support such a massive transition and therefore creates more wires in products like Apple’s dongle. Only when batteries can last more than 12 hours standard, and not decay so rapidly will a wireless transition be viable, but unfortunately companies are in an echo chamber and will keep forward with the trend. Who knows, maybe they’ll turn a profit in the process as well.