Intel: Bye-bye 3.5mm jack

3.5mm jack USB Type-C

Apple, you are not alone. Chip-maker Intel has joined the ranks of tech giants that are calling time on the classic headphone 3.5mm standard. During the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, Architects Brad Saunders and Rahman Ismail presented a new specification for establishing USB Type-C as the dominant connector for audio.

Saunders explained to media that the 3.5mm jack uses up limited space inside a phone. He added that, with the jack being an old standard it could also cause problems with the newer internal components of a smartphone.

He also spoke about the positives. One of the biggest is that USB Type-C allows digital transmission of audio. Saunders said this could eventually lead to consumers being able to enjoy high-end audio at cheaper prices than today. Noise cancellation, for example, would be far cheaper for headphone manufacturers to integrate, and those savings would be passed on to consumers.

On a practical note, USB Type-C is also fully reversible and can transfer power both ways.

“We have a single cable that can do pretty much everything you want it to,” said Jeff Ravencraft, President of the USB Implementers Forum, which is pushing the format.

We’ve reported fairly extensively on Apple ditching the ubiquitous 3.5mm jack in the upcoming iPhone 7. It’s a controversial move, without a doubt. Virtually every headphone and earphone set produced over the past few decades has had the same connection.