Smartphone makers ditching the standard 3.5mm headphone slot from their products is a controversial topic. For starters, it means either using the (usually rubbish) headphones that come in the box, investing in a wireless pair or using a dongle to connect your existing ear buds.
But the removal of the headphone jack has enabled phone manufacturers to make their handsets slimmer and more waterproof, and may one day lead to improved audio.
So, is taking away the headphone jack a smart move by phone makers? Or one in the eye for the consumer? Either way, it’s a trend that seems here to stay. Here are five phones that don’t have a 3.5mm slot and how you can access audio with them.
1. Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
Apple wasn’t the first smartphone maker to ditch the headphone slot, but it was certainly the most high profile. Neither the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have the 3.5mm port, something Apple exec Phil Schiller said displayed ‘courage’. Typical hubris aside, it did allow Apple to look towards a wireless future.
And if you want to get the most out of your iPhone 7, wireless headphones, using Bluetooth, are where it’s at. Apple’s own AirPods are good, but at £159 expensive and don’t offer noise cancelling. The other option is to use either the bundled earbuds, which connect via the device’s Lightning port, or the in–box dongle, which lets you use your old headphones.
Remember that without wireless headphones, you can’t listen to music and charge your phone simultaneously.
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2. Moto Z
Moto’s 2016 flagship device hit shelves two months before the iPhone 7, but didn’t feature a headphone slot either. Like Apple’s handset, it comes with a special dongle in the box, which connects to the phone’s USB–C port. This converts digital audio into analogue, so you can listen as you would on a phone with a 3.5mm port. Once again, though, there are issues with charging and listening at the same time.
If you want to invest for the future though, the super B&W P7 Wireless (£319) are an excellent bet for getting the best audio from the Moto Z. With Spotify Hi–Fi, the Swedish company’s new hi–res audio streaming service, imminent, this is a match made in AV heaven.
If you want a Moto Z with an old–school port, however, the Moto Z Play does at least come with the tech.
Interested in a Motorola without the headphone jack? Buy the Moto Z.
3. HTC U Ultra
Earlier this week, HTC launched the U Ultra, a sleek new smartphone that comes with a secondary screen, impressive artificial intelligence and no headphone jack.
It does however provide its own pretty smart headphones. Although they're not much to look at, when you put the earphones in, they will analyse your inner ears with a sonar-like pulse, and adapt to your own unique way of hearing.
You can also change the headset to suit the noise levels around you. So, whether you’re at the library or on a noisy bus, you can adjust the sound so it’s just right.
If these clever earphones aren’t for you, however, HTC has said that a separate adaptor will be available to buy to enable you to plug your own headphones in, or you can use wireless earbuds.
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4. Google Pixel 2
The Google Pixel 2 hasn’t been announced yet, and it isn’t due to hit shelves until at least the autumn. However, a new report has suggested that it will lose the 3.5mm headphone port found in the original, instead falling back on the phone’s USB–C slot for audio.
This would be a major move and make Google the latest smartphone maker to envisage the end of the existing headphone jack. In doing so, Google will be piling the pressure on its Android–making partners to do the same, making these phones more mainstream in 2018 and beyond.
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5. LeEco Le S3 and Le Pro 3
Chinese smartphone makers have been giving major players like Samsung and Apple a tough time of late, making cutting edge kit that rivals the very best phones out there. LeEco, one of a number of Chinese mobile makers, is leading the charge against the headphone slot, with neither its LeEco Le S3 or Le Pro 3 featuring a standard port.
Like the Pixel 2 and Moto Z, you’ll need to connect via USB–C, or invest either in some specially made wired headphones or a wireless pair. The Optoma BE Sport3 (£79.99) should do the trick.
Fancy a new phone? Check out the LeEco Le S3.