Android Smartphones Could Also Ditch Headphone Jack With USB-C Audio Upgrade

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Android smartphone owners could need new headphones as USB-C gets power-efficient audio transmission

Android smartphone manufacturers could follow Apple’s lead in eliminating headphone ports from their devices after the USB-C standard was upgraded to allow for digital audio.

USB-C is already the standard for charging and connecting Android handsets, and is capable of transmitting audio, but wider adoption has been stunted by power consumption issues. These are rectified with the addition of US Audio Device Class 3.0 to the USB-C standard.

USB-C audio

USB cable Type A Typeb B © JIANG HONGYAN ShutterstockIndustry body The USB Implementer’s Forum (USB-IF) believes USB-C can now become the primary method for “all digital audio applications” including headsets, mobile devices, docking stations and VR units.

“USB is the simplest and most pervasive connector available today, making USB Type-C the logical choice for the future of digital audio,” said Jeff Ravencraft, USB-IF President. “We encourage companies interested in adopting USB specifications to take advantage of USB-IF resources to reduce time-to-market and deliver reliable USB products.”

The recently launched iPhone 7 has no 3.5mm audio jack and instead relies on the proprietary Lightning connector or requires the purchase of wireless headphones.

The move was controversial with those who did not want to purchase new equipment, but the USB-IF agrees with Apple. It says manufacturers will have more freedom with design and can make waterproof handsets easier to make.

USB-C has had a few teething problems since it started appearing in high profile devices earlier this year, such as fears of overheating and dodgy cables. Amazon has removed faulty cables from its listings and free software has been distributed to identify rogue connectors.

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