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Best Smartphones That Still Have a Headphone Jack (wired.com)
304 points by edmoffo on Sept 16, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 389 comments

Apple’s lack of follow-up to the iPhone SE means the SE is still the best iPhone with a headphone jack.

I honestly can’t believe Apple did an iPhone event without introducing a new model in that size. I know at least a dozen people (especially women) who had been saying for at least a year that until the SE had a replacement, they’d be using one, or swapping to Android.

With the weakest offerings for iPhones yet, in terms of reason to upgrade - and intense consumer demand for such a product, I’m just starting to get sick of Apple not listening to what it’s userbase is asking for.

Shoving a limited number of options in our faces only works if the consumers actually want any of those options.

For a time, the ‘MacBook’ was lighter than the ‘MacBook Air’. For years, Apple’s flagship iOS phones wouldn’t even connect to their flagship MacBooks and MacBook pros without an additional cable or adapter.

They’ve killed the non Touch Bar MacBook Pro, while the industry laments the Touch Bar’s existence.

It’s one thing not to listen to your customers. Apple has always been a certain level of compromise (price, features) as compared to other options. It’s another thing to completely ignore industry and user base response. Reasons to make that compromise have run out for me, and are running out for others.

I have been an Apple-exclusive computer (especially laptop) user for 15 years. My next laptop will be a hackintoshed Lenovo.

Is Apple really not listening to it's customers, or just not listening to a small, vocal subset? I've really only heard complaints about the touchbar from software devs, which are not Apple's main customers. Apple's main customers are creatives and people that want to spend a lot of money for what amounts to a well made (MacBook pro keyboard issues notwithstanding), functional status symbols. Making a smaller, cheaper iPhone isn't really useful for the creatives and just devalues Apple as a status symbol for the people that buy it for that.

> For years, Apple’s flagship iOS phones wouldn’t even connect to their flagship MacBooks and MacBook pros without an additional cable or adapter.

> My next laptop will be a hackintoshed Lenovo.

I really don't think you are Apple's target audience. Most iPhone users don't connect their phone to a computer anymore, especially the people that are buying flagship Macs and iPhones, and the few that do generally don't mind buying the extra cable. And most people with the skills and patience to tinker with their systems to make functional hackintoshes probably aren't big on buying services, which is what Apple is trying to transition into.

I think this is general a pretty good argument, and in good faith, but I can't help but think that at some point power users and developers become a leading indicator.

Poor longevity and rising prices and useless or missing features wont result in a slow decline in sales -- the momentum will keep carrying things until some tipping point when complete disconnection from the market makes things get ugly.

Developers and creatives were never the major customers of Apple gear, but in the mid-to late 2000s when things started to pick up they were great evangelists. I don't think it's a good look when those people are vocally saying they're going to switch.

>> I really don't think you are Apple's target audience.

I am a creative professional - which, historically, was a very important part of Apple’s user base; and the reason I still use their products.

The ecosystem and workflow of using an iPhone or iPad to write a simple musical idea in GarageBand on the subway, and then finding it already on my iCloud on my MacBook Pro at home, so I can open it up in Logic and refine it, is unparalleled.

Anecdotally, I’ve never had anyone whom I’ve met, dev, creative, or casual user, who enjoys or uses the Touch Bar.

It’s not even just the touch bar. The keyboard, the soldered RAM and SSD which prevent upgrades, the lack of ports, when I spend more for a MacBook now, I’m getting far less than I did in my many years of purchasing them.

Furthermore, I could pull up a heap of references for this, but it’s a much more serious case with the SE form factor than even Apple’s current garbage laptop offerings.

There are practically a lot of people with smaller hands - they would be happy to give Apple their money but have nothing to give it for.

I'm a dev and like the touch bar. Ask me anything

I'm a developer also. I have no issues with the Touch Bar. I kind of like it. I never used the F keys anyway. I mapped my escape key to caps lock. I view it as the next iteration or evolution of the basic fingerprint reader on many PC laptops and notebooks.

I am more surprised by the hatred for it. It's extremely easily hackable [0] [1] and I was thinking all sorts of people would up with interesting ideas and uses for it over time.

[0] https://github.com/zakrid/awesome-touchbar

[1] https://github.com/erikolsson/Touch-Bar-Lemmings

I don’t think it would be hated if it didn’t replace the layer of existing keys, or offered any kind of haptic feedback.

I was shocked at a second revision of the MBP without haptic feedback on the Touch Bar.

When your hand accidentally touches that miniature touch screen and random things happen on your mac how do you control the urge to hurl it across a room?

When would my hand accidentally touch the touch bar that sits above the keyboard? I literally don't think this has ever happened to me, I'm being honest

I had no idea I was doing it, and couldn't explain the bizarre behaviour until I literally looked at the keyboard, but apparently my left pinky finger is hovering slightly above that area most of the time, and occasionally brushes it lightly enough that I don't even notice—but enough to trigger whatever behaviour is there (particularly irritating as a heavy vim user with a stuttering keyboard, who suddenly finds I'm unexpectedly in normal mode).

Weird, happens to me all the time, reaching for things on my desk, grabbing the laptop, resting my hand in the slightly wrong place.

Happens to me whenever I hit the number keys just below the touch bar, unless I am very careful. I suspect it is mostly a matter of hand shape.

You are certainly one of the rare ones. This happens to me and my co-workers so often it's become a running joke.

1) Would you like a physical function bar as well?

2) Do you use anything to customize the Touchbar to your liking? (I haven't used OS X in quite a while, and haven't heard of anything)

3) How's the rest of your keyboard doing? Do you like it?

1) No, the only one I could see an argument for would be the escape key, but I'm not fussed about that personally, but I also don't live in Vim. Apps also have custom touchbar functions that are more useful than just the function keys in my opinion (you don't have to learn as many keyboard shortcuts for each app).

2) I don't, other than the customization you can do within macOS. I think the only thing that I've really done is remove the Siri shortcut from it.

3) Good so far. I have a 2018 model which has the silicon membrane under the keys and is supposed to be a bit more resilient. One benefit that this whole mess does have is when my battery deteriorates I can get a new one for free by using the keyboard replacement program. At this point if I didn't already have the MacBook I would wait for the next keyboard design to buy one, but personally have not had issues (yet). As far as the typing experience I find it good for short burst typing and the short key travel is generally fine with me, despite using mechanical keyboards elsewhere.

2. The touchbar is very customizeable. GoldenChaos-BTT is the best one:


1. Personally, no.

2. I love BetterTouchTool – I use it at work and at home. Ambivalent towards the touch bar without it, LOVE the touch bar with it.

3. My mid-'16 personal Macbook has the "stuttering keyboard" issue – extra characters typed if not careful. I haven't been doing much side-work lately so I can ignore it, but it's a real pain in the ass for sure. Haven't had that issue on my 2018 work Macbook (yet).

I also like the TouchBar and use BetterTouchTool a bit. But the limitation that annoys me is that I can't simultaneously customize it and display app specific context buttons. As in one section customized if a spotify thing is playing, but otherwise make the space available for overriding.

Have you investigated the option in BTT on a button to always display regardless of context?

Right now I have a spotify song display alongside default apple controls. But afaik there isn't the ability to allocate a bit of the touchbar to BTT, Apple default controls, and app specific context controls. BTT takes over most of the bar, but then I lose the ability to easily use pycharm debugging controls for example.

>> I am a creative professional - which, historically, was a very important part of Apple’s user base; and the reason I still use their products.

The keyword there is historically. It's pretty clear that Apple has shifted its market focus away from the creative space. It's made some efforts to win them back with the latest Mac Pro, but they are a minority.

This isn't even a criticism of Apple (clearly that decision is making money for them), it's just the reality of the situation.

Well, it sure feels shitty to support a company for years, who has supported you in your industry for years, who suddenly just says ‘we couldn’t give less of a shit about you anymore.’

Just for record, I don't know any non-creative/developer who own macs. Anyone else does not like the touchbar. The same subsets care about headphone jacks or not.

I'm 6'1" and think I have decent sized hands, I'd still prefer the 4S size if I could get it

All that said, historically sure, but creative and/or professionals are not the target of a mainstream phone meant to sell millions of phones.

I've given up dreaming and just deal with it as I still prefer iOS to Android

Go to any college. Most people there buy Macs for simple note taking.

Given the number of people I used to see in the street using the shitty quality earphones that were in the box with a new iphone, I think the reality is that most of Apple’s users don’t really give a shit about music quality in the first place.

I think the iPhone SE is a special case in that it's still supported to this day, and actually works fine in most if not all regards. Any user happy with it has no reason to be vocal.

Most people won't be making blogpost about how they're not interested in new phones when the one they have is still fine.

As an aside, I think people don't complain about the TouchBar because it's rarely used outside of the sound and brightness widgets. The majority of people aren't using escape or control keys like crazy, which could explain why mostly devs are in cries. There's no such split for using a phone, so when the iPhone SE is effectively dead and there's no gateway to a similar product, I expect the real wave of complain to rise up.

There are 26 million software developers in the world, virtually all of them own a work or personal laptop (many both), and they have a much higher percentage of owning Macs vs the normal distribution.

Apple "only" sells 18M laptops a year. Software developers likely account for 1/4th (or more) of their MacBook sales.

Many of those software developers are in developing or middle income countries and can't afford a Mac. Just because software developers have a higher rate of buying Macs it does not follow that 1/4 of Macs are bought by software developers.

iOS development in particular seems to be a huge contributor to this.

Where, 15 years ago, I entered the software industry, Macs were virtually non existent in the workplace, I now use one - along with about 25 other people on my floor.

I don’t know. I think the fact that it’s a Unix you don’t have to futz with. I know a lot of software shops in the past 15 years that we’re all Macs, where no one was doing iOS development.

Exactly. Which is more likely: Apple is just ignoring people left and right, making terrible decisions and bleeding money, while you, an HN poster/redditor, know precisely what Apple is doing wrong and can fix it. Or Apple is doing user testing and your needs do not reflect the general population?

requiring an extra adapter to connect you phone to your laptop really goes against the "it just works" creed

It’s laughable.

The only reason I have an iPhone SE is because it's the only small-ish phone that's actually supported. I don't even like all this Apple iOS crap, but I just want a small phone for the 9 apps I use + phone and camera. I previously had a Sony XZ compact, but they stopped making those too :-/ (I got a the SE secondhand a few months ago).

This article calls the SE "tiny, aging, probably almost obsolete throwback", but I don't see what so bad about it? It works very well, IMHO.

I'd get a budget Android phone, but they're all freakin' huge.

The pixel has a small profile and is pure Android and a flagship phone

It's insanely expensive though: "from €899". Also quite a bit bigger than SE, although not as much as some I guess.

I wasn't exaggerating when I said I have 9 apps installed: Couchsurfing, Fastmail, Telegram, Tinder, Revolut, Viewranger, WhatsApp, Google Maps, Firefox. That'll be €100/app!

The pixel 3a is quite cheap (comparatively), fairly small, and got great reviews.

The Pixel 3a has a 5.6" screen while the iPhone SE has a 4.0" one, that's not even comparable.

The SE is also durable. I don't use cases and have dropped it many many times over the last few years. Many scratches but no smashes.

Maybe it's been luck, but every other iPhone I've had before this has needed at least one screen replacement.

Are there any examples of flagship Android phones that are similar in size to the iPhone SE? I doubt Apple just forgot about the SE, and it also seems unlikely that someone high up just made a gut call that the SE size is over. It seems more likely that this userbase you're talking about just isn't as big as you think, and isn't big enough for the R&D of redesigning the SE to be worthwhile for Apple, at least not yet.

Just to offer some counter-anecdotes, I've noticed a lot of women have the larger Max sized iPhone, since you get all the benefits of a big screen but it still fits fine in most purses. I carry my phone in my front pocket most of the time and the iPhone X/11 Pro size is perfect for that, I have no need to go down to the SE size. The only people I know using the SE are people who live in the Bay Area and work in tech who want to make a point of doing something contrarian and joining the tech backlash. And what better for this hipster crowd than discontinuing the phone altogether, so now you can only buy it used and having one becomes even more of a statement?

> They’ve killed the non Touch Bar MacBook Pro, while the industry laments the Touch Bar’s existence.

‘The industry’ is not Apple’s customer. Apple knows who they want their customers to be, and it makes the products that it knows they want. I’m mostly expecting them to release a smaller iPhone. But for most of your complaints and the same old complaints that get posted in every Apple thread on HN, Apple doesn’t care about them, because HN commenters don’t represent what the market actually wants from Apple.

This comment is even less substantiated than its parent. Intuitively the nerds on HN don't represent the "real customers" of Apple, who as a big company, surely does market research. Yet Apple has gone on record several times claiming to bring products to market that customers don't know they need, eschewing market research.

Without posting any reviews or customer data, you assume that there is a large customer demand for touch bar-equipped laptop computers.

The plural of anecdotes isn't data, but the complete absence of adecdotes of people who love the touch bar says a lot.

Eh, there are some who do - I’ve never met one in person, but I have seen many online.

My comment is substantiated by the millions of MBPs they sell every year. I’ve worked with thousands of people who use MBPs since the touchbar came out, and the only people I’ve ever heard complain about it are online “pundits”. Most people I hear mention it love it. The only alternative explanation is that Apples market research is wrong, and that all sales of MBP since the release of the touchbar have been anomalous. It’s completely obvious how out of touch most Apple commentary is with their market.

Apple isn't gods.

A lot of time companies make shitty products and then refuse to back down on it. Apple has done it in the past and this is just another example of it.

> They’ve killed the non Touch Bar MacBook Pro

I would not buy a laptop with a Touch Bar if they paid me.

I'm still using a 2015 MacBook Pro—since it's the last laptop that has all the correct ports and working keyboard, but I'm looking forward to their next event when they should release a new version. If there is no normal keyboard that doesn't break and it doesn't have a non-Touch Bar version, I'll start looking into hackintoshes.

To be fair, lack of cable connectivity between Macbooks and iPhones isn't a particularly big issue, everything can be done wirelessly for most users, they never need to plug their phone into their laptop.

I use Android phones, rather than iPhones, but regardless I can't remember the last time I actually plugged a phone into a computer. If I need to get files between my phone and my computer, I usually just put them on my Google Drive.

>> everything can be done wirelessly for most users, they never need to plug their phone into their laptop

Um, no? An iPhone needs to be plugged into a computer initially to enable wireless connectivity with iTunes.

Furthermore, I like to charge my phone with my laptop, quite a bit.

Also, Google doesn’t sell laptops, (Chromebooks aside) it’s not really a comparable situation.

Oh, additionally: I'm an iOS developer, and use my cable all the time.

I think we might simply be wrong as to what we got out of the iPhone SE and what Apple's intent with it was. The SE was a substantially cheaper iPhone.

Perhaps at the time, Apple had a bunch of old 5/5S-style hardware that they needed to get rid of, and so to liquidate it all, they created the "iPhone SE" as a low-end phone to get rid of all of those extra components in that form factor.

If so, the fact we all bought it because it was a small frame device is actually secondary to why it was created in the first place. If this motivation is true, it's also likely that if there is an SE2, it's going to be iPhone 7 or iPhone 8 in size and part selection with the better SoC, and you will be getting an A13-based, 4.7", Touch ID that looks indistinguishable from the iPhone 7 or iPhone 8 depending upon what bodies they have a lot of sitting around (or a lot of manufacturing capacity therein). I personally don't suspect a modernized 5/5S style phone from Apple the next time.

The original SE was announced in a March event, so I assume its successor might appear six months from now.

They might announce something after the Christmas season. Apple would want to sell as many 11s and 11 Pros as they can before competing with themselves.

Not sure what effect the tariffs will have if they take effect in mid-December. Having a cheaper iPhone means less of a hit from tariffs. https://macdailynews.com/2019/08/29/apple-iphone-faces-15-u-...

I wouldn't even bother with Hackintosh (unless you are building iOS/MacOS apps). Been running Pop!_OS at home for a few weeks now, and although there have been a couple hiccups (alsamixer to fix one, kernel update and drivers for wifi the other), it's been the best desktop Linux experience I've had in years. Been mostly terminal/server/docker instances for about 5 years.

And although there are some options for better Windows experiences (WSL, Docker etc), I'm using Linux at home... laptop is an ageing late-2014 rmbp (though nvidia, so updates are borked) and stuck with Windows at work.

>> (unless you are building iOS/MacOS apps)

raises hand

Yup. I’m also locked in to Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro, with some projects literally a decade old.

> while the industry laments

Apple's target has shifted from pro users to the general public.

People don't really appreciate the MacBook, they appreciate MacOs. If GNU/Linux had a comparable user experience, it'd win hands down.

And on that matter, I recently installed Ubuntu 18.04 lts and I've been surprised at how well it's working (and how much hardware it detected automatically).

I've been looking into Linux, but it's a nightmare to get running on a (2018) Macbook Pro. (Older years have better support through community effort). With the introduction of new chipsets, it's made it even more challenging for the OSS community to keep up. My next laptop will likely be not a MacBook, so long as I can get a high-res display.

The starting point for windows laptops with 15.6" 4k screens is ~$1200 nowadays (280 ppi). Current gen macbook pros are 227 ppi. They also cost more, but obv not relevant if you need mac os for some reason.

Get rid of the Macbook if you want to run Linux. Without OS X there isn't any real point to it.

Dell and friends do much better job at reliability.

My only worry is finding a GUI I know I'll like. To my understanding, with Linux it's basically like legos. Beyond the kernel, you have a ton of choice in what you can use. I want the experience for a few weeks, before diving in fully. I also really like the gestures of Mac OS's trackpad and I don't want to give that up-- it enables a lot of productivity. I like being able to spawn a new desktop and three-finger swipe to the next in a linear fashion. I believe a lot of this has been recreated within the ecosystem, but I'm not certain.

What youre looking for is libinput gestures [0]. Or just use keyboard shortcuts.

[0] https://github.com/bulletmark/libinput-gestures

If you want to run particular apps, you can use Macports or homebrew.

> intense consumer demand for such a product

Besides on HN I never hear anyone wanting an SE.

I've been using the budget Moto G+ line for the past four years. I can upgrade my phone every year around Black Friday and get the latest model for sub $200. The older phones still work well and get handed down to my less tech savvy family members.

I'm not really sure what people are paying for when they get those $800+ beasts for phones. When I use a friend's I can tell they are higher quality; either they feel more fancy or load apps more quickly. But it's marginal like the difference between a workstation and a gaming PC.

I think more people should try out budget Android lines. One really nice benefit is they only contain the technologies that have proved themselves. This article focuses on headphone jacks but there's quite a lot of silly phone tech that comes and goes in the name of marketing showmanship.

The biggest difference between budget and flagship is the camera, which is very important to a lot of people.

There are a lot of people on hacker news (myself included) who hardly ever use their phone cameras and tend to forget that this is such a critical feature to so many people.

My personal reason for using flagship devices is simply because I use my phone an absurd amount. If you're using something for hours every day, marginal speed and quality of life improvements add up.

I'm on a second-hand Oneplus One, and I use it for a TOTP client and Firefox. The camera sucks. It's much worse than the Epson digital camera I bought 18 years ago.

That said, it suits my uses absurdly well. I have no reason to replace it.

Well I used $200 Honor 7 for 3 years, most of the regular non vacation days I didn't carry my Canon Canera, but used Honor phone camera only. Then because of battery degradation, I bought $200 RealMe Pro 2, again using its camera & phone for a year now. Saw an ad for UMIDIGI S3 Pro for $249 with NFC on Amazon, but camera is literally shit, with photos having water drop patches, so returned it.

Gotta say, that's been Umidigi's one weak point. I've got a F1 Play which hits most of my buttons-- cavernous battery, Micro-SD and 3.5mm sockets, and USB-C, but the camera has a distinct "We set the focus at one specific point about 2 metres away and nothing else is ever going to be sharp" compromise. I've tried Open Camera to no avail; perhaps it needs some sort of manual aperture control.

Yes, true that. I also used Open Camera too, focus was fine only if I breath in before pressing the shutter. Even then, there were marks on photo like wet water drops on a piece of paper.

I have this Umidigi S3 Pro and it takes great pictures.

Cameras are important to most people in the way that shoes are important to most people. You can take perfectly fine photos with budget phones.

In any case, I have a lot of friends with phones much more expensive than mine. Their photos aren't that great.

> I'm not really sure what people are paying for when they get those $800+ beasts for phones.

The main reason for us is the camera. We do not own a separate standalone camera anymore. You're not going to be able to take a time machine to take better pictures of the past, which is also why we keep replacing our phones every year. Also I prefer Apple's walled garden especially for the less tech savvy members of my extended family. Tech support is much easier when you can point them to the Apple Store for one to one help and even free classes. Few people ever take into account Apple's physical stores when accounting for the price.

>The main reason for us is the camera. We do not own a separate standalone camera anymore.

The next question then, is: how good of a camera does the average person need?

I'd fathom the vast majority of people viewing pictures are rapidly flipping through them on some app like Instagram. How much difference does the latest camera make for the average user, really?

It's unnecessarily tricky to talk about what an average person "needs." It's pretty tough to justify any cell phone features as a "need" except perhaps for emergency phone calls (and yet, 20 years ago it seems most people didn't "need" that either).

High-end phone cameras are just really really nice, and they do tend to receive regular improvements that are noticeable to people who are interested in photography or just pay close attention. In 2006 I paid $325 for a Canon PowerShot SD870 IS that was pretty nice at the time, and almost any photo I took on that camera would look noticeably bad today compared to flagship smartphone cameras.

For low light situations, the latest phones can make a big difference over a budget phone like Moto G6. Faster photo taking, better stabilization, do make a difference when taking anything moving.

FWIW I used Moto's for a couple of years and really like them. I used to get my wife's iphone for picture taking but now my pixel 2 is all I need.

It's actually getting to the point where they are competitive with DLSRs in some situations. The processing really is doing some pretty amazing things.

I think there’s a lot of value in quality for personal archival. I keep full resolution originals of all the photos I take, and even doing that there are some I took with my iPhone 3GS a decade ago that I wish were higher quality now when I look through them. Things like ever improving displays magnify the problem further, revealing flaws and artifacts that wouldn’t have been noticeable back when the photos were taken.

It’s one of those things where better quality is never a bad thing. Eventually, it’ll get to the point where no further meaningful improvements can be derived from smartphone photography but we’re nowhere near that point today, even with the best smartphone cameras on the market.

> The next question then, is: how good of a camera does the average person need?

I have a family and now time seems to be running much faster than before, and you can't buy back this time which is even more precious now. I want the very best device to preserve this time in amber, while being able to fit in my pocket and simple enough to quickly point and shoot in less than ideal situations and lighting.

Nobody needs a smartphone at all, a feature phone can handle calls and texts just fine. People want the latest and greatest camera, processor, etc and are willing to pay for it.


"Need" doesn't factor into it. People want the latest and greatest.

At this point, if I don't have a phone with a good camera, I'll have to go buy a new standalone camera- probably a point&shoot- in order to satiate my need for documentation and taking photos of my kids.

Also, nobody here seems to mention convenience- carrying around a smartphone is a great replacement for the calculator, watch (possibly with an integrated stopwatch, if you don't get anything too fancy,) walkie-talkie, stress toy, fidget spinner (there's an app for that), elephant, newspaper, or tabloid that might otherwise be on their person.


Yes, but apart from the camera even a $20 phone can do almost all of those functions.

People want the cheapest and easiest.

Not all of them, apparently.

My apple phones have consistently been good for 3-4 years, making the yearly outlay similar. The differences aren't in the CPU features but rather the screen and camera features. The high end apple phone from two years ago still has a better screen than the budget android today and the camera is probably better as well - perhaps equal at worst.

No, I don't have a headphone jack (and yes, it is annoying) but it isn't the only tradeoff. (For example, being left handed, my palm triggers the back button on many android phones when I reach for something on the screen.)

> My apple phones have consistently been good for 3-4 years, making the yearly outlay similar.

That depends a lot. The sum total of every smartphone I've owned since 2012 (4 phones, ~$1100 Canadian before tax) is comparable to the cost of a single current generation iPhone.

That's a good way of looking at it. In my case, the total is $600 (US) across three phones since 2011, thanks to Google's discounting of off-contract phones on the Play store for Google Fi customers. I've been consistently happy with these phones, and they're flexible in areas that I think would frustrate me if I tried to use an Apple device.

I may revisit Apple devices once they're done with their headphone jack fiasco. I like their recent privacy focus.

I had used them in the past and even tried to take them into their third and fourth years, but they felt sluggish and had more and more app crashes as I fell behind the adoption curve. At their price point I'm absolutely expecting a 4+ year lifespan. I think Apple has a different vision though and is aiming a little more upmarket than where I am.

Not sure what you mean. Headphone jacks are never coming back to Apple devices, but Apple’s improvement of performance for older models has gotten better. iOS 13 will significantly benefit devices going back quite a few models.

Latter stage CPUs in iOS devices hold up better than they tended to 5 years ago. I have an iPhone 8 in my house that gets used every day. Not a struggle.. I do remember when a 2 year old iPhone would feel crippingly slow around the time a new model was released. Not the experience these days.

Apple is well known for removing things: floppy drives, optical drives, serviceable storage and RAM, serviceable batteries, F-key rows, FireWire ports, Ethernet ports, MagSafe, USB-A ports, matte-finish displays, etc. There’s always dissent. Yet they never reverse course.

"Yet they never reverse course."

That's because they don't have to. A lot of Apple customers don't even consider competing products. Apple could release a Macbook without a keyboard and there would still be a contingent of users willing to stick with it and explaining that you start to prefer it after a while. A lot of their decisions were good, or at least made sense in the long run (and were just introduced earlier than customers would have preferred,) but they're pretty much unaccountable at this point, I think.

> Yet they never reverse course.

The “trash can” Mac Pro would like a word...

I guess that depends on whether or not the new Mac Pro is reverting to what they had previously or they simply ended a design and replaced it.

> I like their recent privacy focus.

“Recent”? Apple has been focused on privacy for quite awhile , they just didn’t make a big deal about it. Apple has had my personal information including my credit card on file for almost 29 years and I have never received marketing emails from 3rd parties nor has Apple suffered a hacker security breach.

Slightly OT: The new Android 10 gesture navigation would likely solve your back button problem.

Great points, although I would want to add a bit of nuance from my personal experience.

One thing that often gets overlooked in pricing is depreciation. Flagship models tend to keep their value quite well, whereas budget models depreciate to next to nothing.

Take the iPhone X, launched 2 years ago, used it's around $570 today, versus the $999 it launched at.

Meanwhile, a $300 phone tends to drop down to $100 on the 2nd hand market two years later.

It just doesn't hold value very well, for one because budget phones become so much better, and secondly because there's no marketing or natural demand for 2 year old budget phones, and stores themselves discount 1st hand versions of these phones to extreme extents 2 years later. Who here is googling to get a good deal on a second-hand Moto G5? A $300 phone 2.5yo phone that's $50 used today, and $150 new.

So after depreciation, the difference between a $1000 flagship and a $300 budget model isn't $700, rather it's the cost of depreciation $430 vs $200 (or $230 more).

That $220 isn't nothing, but it's $9.50 a month on a 2-year basis. If you compare that to say a Netflix account, a data plan, cloud storage subscription, Spotify, or two Starbucks coffees a month... $9.50 a month extra to carry a flagship phone is pretty doable for most people. And you get a top-notch flagship phone.

Not saying everyone should skip budget phones, but it's not as painful a financial decision as it may seem.

That analysis ignores the costs of breakage, theft, care plan, or insurance excess.

To get the best money for a second hand phone, you also need a good case (which is another sunken cost).

It can make sense, but pay attention to to other costs, because they add up.

I also do what the GP does: buy mid-range Android phones (Nokia at present, used to buy Moto), and give them to family and friends after a few years.

On topic: Nokia phones have a phone jack and have Android One (2 years version update, 3 years security, plus many more years of secure browsing).

That calculation is contingent on the endpoint in both cases being "selling the old phone". I tend to hold onto all of my old phones and computers (still have 10+ year old MacBook Pros and iPhones going back to 3GS), so the residual value is $0 in both cases.

> Take the iPhone X, launched 2 years ago, used it's around $570 today, versus the $999 it launched at. > Meanwhile, a $300 phone tends to drop down to $100 on the 2nd hand market two years later.

This means the iPhone X still had more than twice the effective cost ($429) than the other phone ($200). So it depends on whether the user thinks that it’s more than twice as useful.

you forgot to take into account that most phones are replaced because they break - usually their display gets smashed. In this case budget phones come ahead too:

Let's say you drop your phone after 2 years of use.

If you got an iPhone X you need to spend around $300 on a screen replacement or sell if for $200.

If you got a 2 year old $300 phone you just buy a new for $300 (or do the replacement for $150.)

But anyway I really dont see a reason why someone would get a $500+ phone. I has better hardware (which most people wont make use of) and better design/bragging rights. What can do a $1000 phone better? A better camera (for most should not matter, instagram/facebook compresses your fancy images to shitty JPGs), a faster CPU/RAM (nowadays its barely noticeable unless you play stuff like Fortnite on your phone)

> you forgot to take into account that most phones are replaced because they break - usually their display gets smashed.

Is that true? If so, how do you know it to be true?

look up some statistics. For example here they say that 72 million phones are damaged/lost/stolen in the US each year: https://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherelliott/2019/07/06/a...

Actually this article mentions phones being lost or stolen - another 2 cases where a cheap phone comes out much better.

It's true, just confirmed.

I do think it would be nice to see this kind of accounting taught in high schools.

I could imagine:

Oh, shit.. I have "How to trick yourself into thinking overpriced prestige consumer goods are worth it: 101" with Mr. Conner. That guy is a pervert.

Also let's not forget security updates in relation to Android phones...A two year old phone today, two years down the line may well not be receiving them

1. New Android phones are different: Android 9 was redesigned to make security updates by Google a lot easier. I have been buying Nokia which are getting good security upgrades/updates (and cost a few hundred USD).

2. Browsing on Android remains secure e.g. Android 4.4 is still getting Chrome updates (I think Chrome is generally more secure than Safari anyway). iPhones become insecure to use when they stop getting updates because the browser is not updated.

Note: nice recent article "Google can’t fix the Android update problem" https://www.theverge.com/2019/9/4/20847758/google-android-up...

I didn't know: "starting with Android 10, a new initiative called “Project Mainline” will mean some of the plumbing inside Android can be updated directly via the Play Store."

Nice graph showing that Nokia is really good at updating their devices (and also shows how abysmal most Android manufacturers are at updating versions!). That said, I haven't got Android 10 yet (although I might get it since it is a Nokia and I am still within the 2 year upgrade window).

The problem with HMD-Nokia is that most have a perma-locked bootloader. Otherwise, very nice phones.

Yeah - I used to only buy phones with an unlockable bootloader. But I found that I didn't actually ever install open source firmware (I have, but I don't trust the security).

Aside: the Android 9 security update feature is Project Treble. However apparently it doesn't make that much difference for many brands/networks because Google doesn't control the updates directly: https://www.computerworld.com/article/3306443/what-is-projec...

However, my Nokia has been getting security updates quickly enough for me. And I love dual SIM when travelling.

that's usually my thought process as well, and also that high end phones are generally using this year's newest components while the mid range ones are using parts from previous years to dave money. two years from now the high end phone you bought might still be able to hold its own while you will have trouble selling the mid range

I used to get the flagship phones just simply because I could. My parents were still footing the bill so it was never a problem. Turns out I don't really use that many resources on my phone. I browse reddit, take the occasional pic, watch youtube, and maybe play low resource games maybe once a week. My phone is 95% an internet machine. It also turns out flagship phones are expensive as hell when you are buying it yourself. I bought myself a $250 moto g7 power. My Nexus 6p broke at an inopportune time and a flagship wasn't going to fit my budget. It doesn't play 1080p video but the different is almost negligible on a small screen. The camera is decent and internet resources load just as quick as anything else. The massive battery is a really nice feature and will definitely be something I will put on my need list for when I'm looking for my next phone.

I use the moto G line myself and the only thing I am dissatisfied about is Motorola's constant refusal to make use of it's 64bit hardware, forcing the OS to run in 32-bit mode.

Some games (Pokemon Masters for example) are simply unavailable because of this, and Google has already deprecated 32bit native code.

I've been on the Moto G range for a couple of yeras now. I don't know if it's running on 32 bit or not as i don't use the phone for much more than messaging, browsing and some light gaming.

As a budget phone i can't recommend the range enough. Been some solid phone and never had any issues with them

Never noticed. Loyal Moto g due to chop for flashlight and minimal crapware. Headphone jack has failed on last on a d starting to on this one though.

Pixel camera is pretty amazing/magical. How is the camera app on the Moto G+?

I've probably taken under 50 photos this year so I am not a good reference point for camera features. I haven't been disappointed with the photos but I also probably have no idea what I'm missing.

You've taken about 10 times more than I!

G6 plus' camera is not one of its selling points. It is OK for the price range, but not more than that. Older iPhones (as in iPhone 6) are better.

Edit: but the camera on g7 is apparently better.

The G7 camera and app are serviceable. It's on par with my iPhone SE in speed, and bests it in low light. It has a reasonable portrait mode with effective background blur. In good lighting, landscape shots are indiscernible with my pixel 2.

It doesn't have the magical night shot mode that the pixels have, though.

The G series continues to have mediocre cameras. They have to make some sacrifices to deliver such a good value.

The app itself is really nice. The pictures though, are not great. Don't expect anything close a pixel.

I generally go for the prior model flagship, which with some careful shopping can often be found for 30-40% of the original price. For example my current phone is a pixel 2xl I got for about $260. It's significantly better than newer budget models but for roughly the same price. I should note that this price decline is much less significant for iPhones though.

IMO this is the best of both worlds. After Samsung released the S9 I was able to get my S8 for something like $250. And since it used to be a flagship I get a lot of the bells and whistles that budget phones often lack (water resistance, SD card slot, wireless charging, NFC, MST, good camera, etc).

I've been using a G4 Play since... I can't remember. Many years ago. And now it's time to upgrade again, but I also don't see the reason to go for a high-end phone.

With one exception: the software. I want updates as long as possible and I want no crapware, so I'm thinking a pure Android or something as close to it as possible.

I used a G4 Play for almost 3 years but got uncomfortable about the lack of further system updates. I am happy with a G7 Play now, which seems to have better radio and GPS performance and similar battery life. Prior to the G4 Play, I used pricier mid-range phones in the Nexus price bracket.

I can see myself continuing with the Moto G Play series, if they don't mess them up. However, I won't replace them annually. I expect I'll similarly drag it out and skip a couple generations until lack of updates make me uncomfortable again, unless I drop it/break it first...

My daily driver for years has been a Moto Z Play gen 1, with a battery mod. It's robust as hell, I have literally never had the battery run out, and I can go two days or sometimes three if I'm being careful without doing a full charge which is pretty much my top concern on phones. It has a good enough camera for my needs and a headphone jack. When it's time to change, I'm totally staying on this line.

My strategy is similar to yours and I buy a $400 phone every 2 years. In 2017 I got an LG G5, which served me well. This year I got a Google Pixel 3A, which has also been great. I tried phones in the $200 range, but the user experience wasn't quite as pleasant as I cared for.

Echoing sibling comments: camera, camera, camera.

Anecdata as to whether it's really necessary to have a very good camera backed by powerful hard/software -- for me personally, camera quality became my #1 priority after having a baby, & exact same with everyone I know in similar position. But regardless of whether they have family or not, peeps seem to like being able to take good looking photos and videos, and the current manufacturer war over cameras means if you can afford to spend a bit more then the market is fantastic.

Edit: also, acquisition of powerful status symbols via a monthly fee that is only slightly higher than the monthly fee for less powerful status symbols.

Absolutely concur. And I'm only on a G6, a standard one I picked up some months ago at a clearance sale for ~nothing because Android was getting absurdly cranky about hardware limitations on my old phone. No idea why I would want a heftier model.

I'm paying for a phone that lasts 4-5 years (I'm on my 3rd iphone since the original, probably not going to buy another this year) and is still way nicer to use than a moto g (which is admittedly a great budget phone).

> I'm not really sure what people are paying for when they get those $800+ beasts for phones

As someone with a painfully expensive phone, for me it was mostly down to the combination: 1) full radio support for us carriers (which also pulls along a decent chunk of europe gsm), 2) SD card support, 3) a headphone jack, 4) some level of waterproofing, 5) enough popularity that I expect to be able to root and install patches once it stops getting official patches. In that order.

That list narrowed me down to a very tiny selection of phones.

Edit: There are now many more options (and cheaper) than when I bought my phone. :sadface:

I love sticking with budget phones, you can take risks on trying different manufacturers. My last two phones were a Nokia and a Xiaomi, both were good phones and I never would have tried them if they weren't ~$180.

> I think more people should try out budget Android lines.

If I were willing to stay in the Android ecosystem, this is what I'd do. But I'm not (nor am I willing to go with iOS). It's just become too difficult, painful, and uncertain to secure them anymore.

Instead, when I need to replace my current (ancient) smartphone, I'm falling back to a feature phone combined with carrying a pocket computer that just runs plain old Linux.

I’d do the same or move to something like a Librem 5 except that my iphone is a useful platform for lots of little proprietary utility software.

Eg Shimano have a utility for updating the firmware on my bike (oh what a time to be alive...) they have software for doing that from Linux.

Keeping an old older iPhone around just to cover that is useful. Not sure what I’ll do when it dies or looses support.

I bought a few moto g since 1st gen. My moto G3 is still operating fine even after years of mild abuse (regular tiny drops, sometimes high drops, sand beaches, heat).

Very high build quality considering the price even brand new.

I even bought a 2nd hand G5+ because I thought the G3 was about to die.. but it didn't. I wonder if the 4, 5, 6 .. are as sturdy.

I always buy budget Android phones the problem for me is the longevity. They simply start having lots of issues (both hardware and software) very fast. I haven't had a phone that has lasted more than a year.

I'm a single-issue voter when it comes to cell phones - if it doesn't have a headphone jack, I won't be buying it.

What I don't get is: it's not an either/or proposition, it's not like you have to choose between having wired and wireless headphones.

I use my Airpods on my android phone, and they're pretty nice for when I'm doing housework and working around the shop. When I'm at work, I plug in my plantronics headset for conference calls, and my regular cans when I'm listening to music. Airpods don't have the stamina to keep up with a long day of work, nor the sound quality I want - they are a compromise device.

I don't really care about this debate too much anymore, since it seems that a few good manufacturers are still clued in that this is an actual need that a lot of people have (I've been using a Moto G5, and now I'm using an S9). But it is odd to still pushing the claim that "everyone got over it" with regards to headphone jacks - I never got over it, and I continue to vote with my wallet.

But your dichotomy isn't a hard and fast rule either. I use AirPods for everyday commuting and phone/video calls. I also do a lot of wilderness backpacking, and then I carry EarPods with a Lightning connector for when I want to listen to music before I sleep (because they're lighter, cheaper, simpler, probably more durable, and it's one less thing to charge).

If you find it such a hassle to use compatible headphones are carry an adapter, of course there's nothing wrong with you choosing for phone purchases accordingly. But I think it's pretty clear that most people either never run into the hassle at all, or aren't bothered by the fact that they need to choose compatible headphones or carry an adapter.

I'm not single-issue, but its definitely at the top of my requirements list. Just bought a pixel 3a to replace my galaxy s8 that broke. The headphone jack was probably the single biggest influence on what I bought. That along with price, camera and iFixit repair score made the 3a hard to pass up.

I'm triple-issue. If the phone doesn't have a headphone jack, doesn't have a user-replaceable battery, and doesn't have an SD card slot, then I'm not buying it.

I feel the same but it's getting harder and harder to fulfil those requirements.

I want a really large screen as well. The Galaxy Note 10 has everything I want, except the damn headphone jack!!!

My single-issue is replaceable battery, but no new candidates are being fielded. I still have an LG V20. They're now on V50 I believe but haven't had replaceable batteries since the V20.

Curious why you want this? Are you replacing the battery multiple times per day, rather than charging?

Not OP, but for me it's a longevity thing. With a user-replacable battery, about 2 years after purchase I can simply order a compatible battery, pop it in the phone in a one-minute procedure, and carry on for another 2+ years. The battery will wear out, there's just no getting around that, but today's phones are so powerful that the rest of it isn't necessarily obsolete by that point. Especially not on Android, and especially if you aren't using your phone to do heavy tasks like gaming and media constantly.

It's not impossible to get by without one, but personally I don't have the soldering skills to replace a modern battery (parts are just a bit smaller than I trust myself with) so that's going to be a repair charge when my current phone's battery wears down in a year or so. No reason to replace the whole phone at that point, it still runs great and does everything I need it to do. Why waste the money?

I swap it out once a day, and charge the extra batteries in a charger. This way I can carry backup power that's relatively small compared to most general battery packs. Also I'm putting less strain on my USB-C port, which I've had fail on other phones. Lastly, some people advocate doing it this way because fast charging tends to create a lot of heat, and that heat might damage the phone.

Yep, me too, I have the same phone. I'm probably going to upgrade to a newer model in this range eventually because the cameras are fantastic, but I'm annoyed they axed the removable battery.

fair phone 3? it has a replaceable battery

I'm still on one of the few CDMA carriers out there, so that's not an option right now.

but, why? I sincerely don't understand why the headphone jack is the hill that so many people choose to die on.

The $9 lightning to 3.5mm dongle has worked perfectly for me, as has my USB-c to 3.5mm dongle.

Because people don't want to fuck around with a stupid dongle to have a feature that the phone should have had in the first place. Dongles get lost, and you also can't charge the phone and use the dongle at the same time. Maybe you don't think it's a big deal, but when the asking price of the device is $1k, any little annoyance like that is a legitimate deal-breaker: for that much money, it should have everything, instead of stripping features out to save money.

This argument is circular because you're already assuming that "the phone should have had it in the first place." If you assume that, then you don't need to continue to argue for why the phone should have had the feature.

I have pretty much never charged my phone and used it at the same time. The cord is too short, and cords that are long enough are unwieldy. Plus, the cord sticks out right where my hand wants to hold the phone.

Is this something people actually do in any situation except low-power emergencies?

I do this all the time, especially while driving. I plug an aux cord into my phone to listen to podcasts or audiobooks and plug the usb connection into power supply in my car. I wouldn't be able to do a long road trip if I had to switch between these.

This is a decent amount of people but I think this is increasingly rare as more and more cars have Bluetooth. And it's not hard to update many older cars to newer headunits that have Bluetooth in them. (as I did for some of my cars) or just get a headunit that does power+transmission over USB too.

You can definitely tell the difference between bluetooth and an aux cord. There's no excuse for using a wireless connection between a phone and a car that are already plugged into each other anyway

Personally, I dislike having to plug in multiple cords. 3.5mm also doesn't transmit what you're listening to. I find that pretty useful to know. My phone screen is used for other things besides displaying song info.

Data point: I actively use my phone while plugged in 1+ hour per day, and often use it for 10+ hours of streaming music while plugged in. No 3.5mm jack is a dealbreaker for me.

Wanting to listen to music on your phone that is plugged in at your desk seems like a pretty reasonable use case to me

Yep, I've done this many times.

It's pretty much mandatory for me when on long road trips or flying.

Yes, many people do it all the time.

I do all the time in my car.

One of my cars only has an AUX jack.

To be fair, you having a car with an Aux jack means that you are definitely not in Apple's target demographic, because you're obviously too poor or too cheap. (No offense, I'm explaining this from the point-of-view of Apple and its fans.) Anyone who's a true Apple fan and customer would happily trade in their older car for a new one with CarPlay just so their brand-new iPhone works with it, just like a true Apple customer would happily throw away their wired headphones and buy Apple AirPod wireless headphones.

Remember, if you're not into conspicuous consumption, then you just aren't suited to be an Apple customer.

Of course, the problem with all this is when other phone makers ape Apple by copying some of these features, somehow thinking they'll gain the cultish customer base that Apple enjoys by doing so.

I still use an SE but I really don’t get this complaint against upgrading. Just keep the dongle permanently on the end of your headphone cable, and use one that splits out to a lightening charger as well. I’m seeing one for under 10 bucks on Amazon. Really a non-issue.

I have multiple pairs of headphones, I have some over the ear ones at work, I have a couple buds that don't cut out as much outside noise in my car for when I'm shopping, I have some in ears at home I use when mowing my lawn. I plug my phone into some speakers at home sometimes. I don't want to have to keep track of a dongle for each of these.

The cost of a headphone jack at scale is a few cents. I'm pretty sure it's less about the cost and more about size/thickness, with moisture sealing as possibly a secondary concern.

If you say that the battery is a little bigger because the internals of the phone didn't need to accommodate a headphone jack, does that make you feel any better? How often do you use not-your-regular-headphones (which would just have dongle on them permanently) vs using the battery down to the final 10%?

We've had waterproof phones with headphone jacks for ages, so that's not an issue unless you're incompetent.

I've never seen a phone where the battery extended down to near the headphone jack.

If I put a dongle permanently on my headphones, how do I use them on another device that has a standard 3.5mm jack?

Thickness is only an issue for Apple fans. No one else actually cares if a device is 0.2mm thicker.

I mean, it's not like it's empty space in there. Looking at the insides of an iPhone X, it's clear that something would have to give to make room for a new and quite sizeable connector: https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iPhone+X+Teardown/98975#s182...

In any case, I fundamentally agree that it's not worth the tradeoff; I use an iPhone 5S and find it perfectly serviceable (and charmingly small and light). But some people do value those things, and/or only use wireless headphones or headphones with a single device.

Supposedly, previous iPhones had a lot of empty space near where the headphone jack would have been. Enough space for this guy[1] to drill a hole and install Apple's DAC in it.


Ha, I can only assume that on account of the obvious controversy, this was done by the engineers so they'd have an option to reverse course if the executives had a last-second change of heart. Once it was clear they really did have that space to work with, they filled it up with stuff.

Its infuriating to me that Sony led the way with high end waterproof phones. They had a relatively stock Android experience and pretty much perfected the water proof phone with an open headphone jack.

Then Apple came out with a phone without a headphone jack and they just dropped the head phone jack from all of their worthwhile phones. I was a regular Sony buyer for years because of them being waterproof, but reluctantly had to switch last year to Samsung when my Sony phone was stolen.

same. was mainly buying sony phones for the last few years but the xz1 compact was the last one. they just lost the plot after that. now I've moved to Samsung and the s10e which is too big for my liking but it's the only phone around today that ticks all the boxes I want

The Samsung Galaxy S5 was waterproof too, and had a headphone jack.

> for that much money, it should have everything

That’s how you end up with Homer cars. Get rid of the legacy junk and streamline on useful features I say.

The galaxy s10 is not a homercar. Its a good tool

The iPhone 7 and newer are just designed like Eva from wall-e because "fuck compatibility, buy proprietary wireless to solve everything"

Legacy junk is the stuttering, disconnects, game audio latency and shit that bluetooth still is to this day. Analog audio has no such problems! Using bluetooth only makes the wire longer by using radio frequency but you spend more energy maintaining and error correcting this much worse connection.

Yes you could use lightning headphones but how cucked is that? Buying headphones specially for the port that only exists on your phone?

I consider a headphone jack mandatory for two main reasons. First, wireless earphones don't have adequate battery life (not to mention that the last thing I need is yet another thing that requires daily charging). Second, after trying out a variety of bluetooth earphones, I've yet to find one that doesn't give me periodic problems (dropped connections, etc.)

Since Bluetooth doesn't offer anything that I consider advantageous, those two faults mean that bluetooth earphones are seriously inferior to me.

Dongles are a nonstarter for me, for all of the obvious reasons.

when you are able to share your bt audio with someone sitting next to you like you can with 3.5mm (ie sharing one of the buds or using a splitter) then Bluetooth will be ready. when batteries are good enough to last a few weeks or can change up instantly then I could see myself switching.

for the moment I'm going to try out using a bt receiver (just bought a fiio btr3 a few days ago) and when the battery goes i can just switch back to 3.5mm instead of having to wait half an hour for bt headphones to charge back up which is such a daft idea when you consider the price of them

Buy headphones with a Lightning or USB-C cable on them?

No dongles, no Bluetooth, no wireless. Everything you ask for.

Then I'd need an adapter to plug it into my other audio devices.

Yeah, I don't get the headphone jack obsession either. Bluetooth has been perfect for me and frees me from the cord. I can't stand tangled up cords that tickle my neck as I'm trying to listen to music.

For most people bluetooth is not perfect. For some, it's tolerable. For me, it's a pain in the ass that requires frequent re-pairing, mucking around with configuration, recharging headphones, and generally thinking about how to set it up and why it's not working. The total set of failure modes for wired headphones is much easier to understand.

For most? Hardly. Regardless, it's better than lugging wires around like it's 1990.

> it's better than lugging wires around like it's 1990.

That's just like, your opinion, man. I don't know what I'm doing wrong, but bluetooth kind of sucks. If I have two devices that just stay paired together forever, it seems to work fine. But if there's ever any change, I usually have to spend 30-60 seconds fucking around and turning BT on and off, or re-pairing, or selecting output devices or something. Wired headphones are simple, don't need recharging, and they work when I want them to. So much like non-smart-light-bulbs, I do think sometimes 1990-style things are better. And I don't think I'd use the word "lug" to describe carrying something that weighs an ounce or less.

Bluetooth is perfect for you if you like going back to pre 1985 audio quality. Some of us like CD quality, and it's kind of funny that in 2019 the only way to get close to that (without a headphone socket, anyway), is using aptx-hd supported phones/headphones.

There you go. In general Bluetooth provides lower-quality audio. In addition, in my experience Bluetooth is pretty much always laggy, which is a problem for conference calls. Finally, I feel far more confident about the security of wired communication, and rather dubious of Bluetooth security. There are already many well-known serious Bluetooth culnerabilities, and I expect that there will be more. I keep Bluetooth off as much as I can... it's hard to exploit when it's off.

Bluetooth works almost perfectly for me too, and I still use my phone's headphone jack from time to time. And the 3.5mm headphones I use work immediately with every other device I own. It's just a basic and useful enough feature that it doesn't make sense to remove it.

See "Analog: The Last Defense Against DRM" [0]

[0] https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/09/analog-last-defense-ag...

I don't see any difference between an internal DAC with a 3.5mm jack vs an external DAC with with 3.5mm jack.

Honestly this article is pretty weak and relies entirely on speculation of what Apple might do in the future.

The dongle is completely unacceptable to me. First of all, there is a 100% chance that I will at some point forget it at home or lose it altogether, and then be unable to use my headphones altogether. That's a dealbreaker.

Then there's the sheer inconvenience of carrying it around. I only have three things in my pockets: wallet, phone, keys. It takes less than a second to ensure that I have all three of those things on me. If I now have to dig past my wallet to the bottom of my pocket to make sure a little dongle is in there, that is dramatically worse.

How many headphones do you have? I’d be surprised if it was more than 2. Just keep the single permanently on the end of the headphone’s aux cord and that solves all your issues in this comment.

Until a phone has 2 USB-C ports it's absolutely a dealbreaker.

Why? iPhone 11 has wireless charging, and Lightning connector, doesn't that answer the biggest complaint "can't charge and listen at the same time"?

I grok the antipathy towards a dongle or ideals of a headphone jack. I mean, the latest MBP they sell doesn't have lightning for headphones, so even across Apple's highest end products, you need different connectors.

However, I gave up on that fight years ago - I use AirPods (and BT in general) for my audio. Other than CarPlay (which is also lightning connector).

For me, it's not really a "fight". It's more about preferring to buy things that meet my needs, which I'll continue to do.

I've played the no-headphone-socket 'game' with my G1. The g1 was a great phone, but not having a standard headphone socket sucked. The adapter was aweful UX. It was fiddly to use, uncomfortable in the pocket, fragile, and risked damaging the phone's USB port.

I don't want to repeat that experience

Because every single phone has all the other features I want. It's the one feature that is missing for them.

At the end of the day phones pretty much all do the exact same thing. There are little differences to form factor and different camera quality and all that.

But none of that will make any difference to your life for 90%+ of people. You don't need the best camera ever for your snapshots. And you don't need the fastest mobile processor to check your email.

I used to be like that about physical keyboards on smartphones, but I gave up that battle years ago. Same with headphone jacks.

All I want now is more than one USB input! That works as headphone jack anyway.

No one likes a quitter. ;-)

They'll have to pry the QWERTY keypad and headphone jack[1] from my cold, dead hands...or stop Android security updates.

[1] https://blackberrymobile.com/us/product/blackberry-key2/

I used to be one of those keyboard fanatics until i realised swipe typing was much faster, so it was an actual improvement overall.

with bluetooth it's not a great comparison since the only improvement is that you don't have to deal with annoying cables anymore but everything else is a step back:

they cost more. you have to charge them. the battery will degrade over time to a point where they will be unuseable while headphones from 20 years ago will work just fine. even if the battery lasts you might run into compatability issues at some point in the future (different bt versions etc). they drain more battery from your phone. they have connection issues. they are awkward to pair to new devices. you cant share your music with someone sitting next to you.

Same here. #nojacknobuy

Wireless charging is also essential, because I've had too many worn out or damaged USB jacks.

I sometimes can’t believe that after 3 years people are still feeling hurt about this thing. I mean, go ahead and vote with your wallet but wow, what a hill to choose to die on!

I’ve been through the obsolescence of floppy disks, cassette tapes, optical media/drives, DB9 serial ports, parallel printer ports, composite video, RCA audio jacks, VGA and countless other display output jacks, yet this silly 3.5mm headphone jack is the one that’s turned people so ridiculously mad! So unbelievable.

Just based on iPhone sales it doesn’t look like many people actually care, but those who do, boy are they vocal about it. Why is this such a burning issue? Just use the adapter or invest in a decent pair of BT headphones and never worry about it again. It’s been probably 4 years since I’ve even used a device with a 3.5mm plug.

> invest in a decent pair of BT headphones and never worry about it again

Except, everyday, when you need to charge them? And when you need to enable/disable the BT radio (unless you keep it always on but in that case the autonomy of the phone suffers).

I like my bone conduction BT headphones and use them almost everyday, but a passive "dumb" wired solution is very convenient and removing it is a strict downgrade. At a time when the new models don't really add a lot of value over the older ones this removal actually tips the balance to the wrong side. The improvements don't make up for it.

There is a middle ground that is at some level really stupid but functional in that edge case.

You can buy BT to 3.5mm adapters that charge with USB-C. Most of the time charge isn’t an issue so you get the benefits of wireless headphones but in a pinch you can charge the adapter off your phone.

Is it dumb to use BT for two devices physically plugged into one another — yes. Does it work for the few times it’s needed — absolutely!

> optical media/drives

They still make CDs, and in fact they're the only way to get many albums in a lossless digital format with no DRM.

> RCA audio jacks

You must not own a nice stereo amplifier. These are still the norm.


90% of the classrooms at the university I work at have projectors with VGA only input. While it doesn't matter to me personally, I can see why some people want their laptop to be able to connect to these "obsolete" cables.

> It’s been probably 4 years since I’ve even used a device with a 3.5mm plug.

Well, good for you? Just like CDs and RCA cables, the 3.5 mm jack still works great. In fact it's the best (in terms of quality and reliability) consumer audio connector we've ever had, and probably ever will have. It's more than understandable why people would complain about having to switch to something that isn't as good. Just because you don't care about these issues doesn't mean that other people shouldn't.

I mean dongle hell is pretty annoying but I do see the argument against having a bunch of ports when there’s an “everything if you wire the pins right” port.

> I’ve been through the obsolescence of[...]

The difference is that those things had replacements available that were at least adequate.

If adequate replacements really aren't available, that could be an indication that the people desiring such replacements truly are in a small minority, and that the market is functioning as it ought to.

It may be, but that's beside the point.

Your bluetooth experiences don't mimic the majority. You've just had some shitty headphones and/or Android phones. Never a problem on my iphones 4, 6, 8 Plus and I'm sure my soon to be 11 Pro with 10s of bluetooth enabled devices (cars, headphones, speakers, etc).

I never claimed that my experiences reflected the majority. However, my experience is shared by a lot of other people nonetheless.

Also, I've tried a wide variety of different bluetooth earphones on a variety of different smartphones. If the problem is just that I haven't found the right combination, then I'd say that is an argument against bluetooth for this purpose.

I shouldn't have to do a deep research dive just to find the combination that works. We're talking about listening to music here, not something tricky where a large research effort is justified.

Are you implying that Android users are in some secondary group? I was under the impression that was a bigger group than any other.

I'm on Android and bluetooth works fine in my car, with all the limitations that bluetooth has.

I use a headphone jack for headphones because I'm an audio snob and it's much better audio quality with zero latency, I can use quality headphones, and I don't have to charge another thing. Bluetooth is a step backwards.

pros of headphone jack:

much better audio quality, zero latency, lighter headphones, one less thing to charge every day

cons of headphone jack:

a wire

For me it's no contest, and there's no reason we can't have both.

I definitely won't be buying a phone without a headphone jack, and the suggestion that I have to make that compromise is stupid.

I use an iPhone 6s and sometimes my AirPods cut out randomly, and loses signal if they're in my pocket. I've been on quite a few walks where I need to hold my iPhone in my hand instead of having it in my pocket in order to listen to my podcast or whatever. Sometimes it's not a problem at all, though. Sometimes they don't charge, so I can only use 1 AirPod while I wait 5 minutes for the other one to charge a little. I can really understand why someone might find bluetooth maddening, but personally I find the wires even more annoying. Different strokes...

> Just based on iPhone sales it doesn’t look like many people actually care, but those who do, boy are they vocal about it.

Hmm... You mean how iPhone sales have platued in the 3 years since this change was introduced or do you mean how 2016, the year they got rid of the headphone jack, was the first year in the history of the iPhone where sales decreased? I am not really seeing your point. (These numbers are primarily due to changes in the broader market)

I have lived with no headphone jack and done the dance with Bluetooth dongles and wireless headphones. Even if you avoid the pairing issues, battery is consistently an issue. Making sure that the various dongles are charged when you need them is adding unnecesary cognitive load.

Bro. It's the descent into modernism we're talking about here. The fall of Eurasian civilization into degenerate idiocracy. Do we scrape the exoplanets or do we pick through our own landfills for the rest of eternity? It all hinges on the 3.5 mm headphone jack.

All those technologies you named above are part of my daily life. I can't imagine not saving my (plaintext) writing on a floppy. I listen to CDs, and I watch DVDs. All of my video output is VGA or CGA. My DVD player uses RCA.

The 3.5 mm jack works - and it works well. I can connect audio devices together which were created a century apart. Heck, I use the same earphones in my phone, my computer, my TV, and my grandparents' record player. No software is required, no time is wasted "pairing". It just works. And I believe every piece of new tech should be held to the same standard - if it can't work as efficiently and as compatibly as a 3.5mm jack, take it back to the drawing board until it does.

If you are using a floppy (or a DVD) nowadays, you are either a luddite or a masochist.

>if it can't work as efficiently and as compatibly as a 3.5mm jack, take it back to the drawing board until it does.

100% agree.

The fact this is even a discussion makes me weep for humanity.

except you are ignoring the fact that the newer technologies we're drastically better. usb drives were far greater than floppy disks. cds were better then cassettes. Bluetooth is better than 3.5mm in a few small ways but inferior in every other way.

there was no reason why phone manufacturers couldn't leave the headphone jack alone until Bluetooth was ready but it was mainly a money grab to force customers to buy their bt headphones

There are no Bluetooth headphones that are as good as even moderately priced analog ones, e.g. the Sennheiser/Massdrop 6xx ($200 new).

This is just a top-6-best-gadgets list with affiliate links for each pick and a provocative headline.

No, it's more than that: it's an excuse for us to get together in the comments and rail against the passing of the headphone jack. I'm serious: the actual article in this case is the stone in a pot of stone soup.

You're right. But it is generating some interesting discussion here on HN with people sharing what 3.5mm headphone jack equipped phones they've been using.

And whats wrong with that?

An argument could be made that it is not in the spirit of HN.

It is an advertisement. The content was crafted to generate fees. Its objectivity is questionable.

I got a Nokia 7.1 for around $300 and it has the headphone jack and a Micro SD slot, another feature that phone makers are getting rid of...

Phone memory is terrible these days, I have a huge collection of Mp3s and wav files I don't want to give up, despite bluetooth stuttering at times in my car.

Putting low onboard memory on modern phones should be a crime when USB sticks with 128GB plus are selling for $15... They do that to boost streaming and data charges... It's like car makers intentionally putting a smaller gas tank in a car if carmakers also owned the gas stations.

Had a Nokia 7 Plus for the same reasons, but unfortunately some other hardware issues meant that it only lasted a year and a half, then the USB port stopped working. Seems to be a common issue.

Switched to a Pixel 3a XL after that, which is kind of disappointing since it's a very similar phone for a higher price (and without microSD unfortunately), but there really aren't a whole lot of options for headphone jacked phones these days, especially once you start adding in other requirements like good battery and stock Android.

"Nokia"/HMD have promise, it was mostly a great phone but with some significant issues, I'll be holding out on buying another of their phones until they've improved their quality control.

1,600+ MB/s read on iPhone Xs NAND vs 90 MB/s read on an SDXC card. Of course the USB sticks and the like are cheaper, they're not comparable at all.

Not really relevant. Obviously you want fast I/O for your OS storage, but for external storage that's mostly going to be used for music, videos, and images, it really doesn't matter how fast it is.

Loading my (40k+ image) library on a 90MB/s card was painfully slow. Fast I/O always matters, there is no reason to make a performance sacrifice like that in 2019.

> Loading my (40k+ image)

> there is no reason to make a performance sacrifice like that in 2019.

> 64 GB: $1099

> 256 GB: $1249

> 512 GB: $1449

Cost is a reason, not having 40k images to load is another one. We clearly don't have the same sacrifice to do sadly.

But I only need 90MB/s for music. Or if the phone can already determine unused apps to offload, it could move them to cold slow storage instead.

I don't disagree about offloading, but comparing the cost of SDXC to NAND does not make sense.

It does makes sense to complains about the price difference when you don't need 1,600+ MB/s speed for what you want to put on it.

He want 128 GB for his MP3, it doesn't make sense he can't get it when USB stick of that size are that cheap.

Lots of budget Android phones have expandable memory

> They do that to boost streaming and data charges...

Which phone manufacturers make any money from streaming and data charges?

Not manufacturers specifically... Carriers are the ones who usually buy the phones form MFRs then sell to customers... So Carriers are the ones that lobby for phone storage to stay low and manufacturers follow along.

Apple, when the data is hosted on iCloud

Samsung, when you pay for their cloud data storage

I've been quite happy with my 6s, going to replace the battery again soon. But eventually iOS updates will cease coming, yet I absolutely cannot live without a headphone jack.

Honest question: how would you even approach the Android? My smartphone is basically a more mobile extension of my laptop: sending document snapshots directly from the phone's camera to my MacOS desktop, starting iMessage conversations with anyone with a phone number on a Mac and continuing on my phone, copy-pasting from my laptop into my phone, etc.

Android seems to be designed to run in "I'm an island" mode, i.e. the phone is one and only computer a user is supposed to use. I understand that my usage pattern isn't what manufacturers (and Google) are optimizing for, but what would be the closest approximation?

"Android seems to be designed to run in "I'm an island" mode"

Not at all, if anything it is more flexible, as it syncs cloud first, making what's on your phone accessible through a browser on any device, although with numerous sync programs available on the desktop as well. Scan docs into Google Drive (or dropbox) and the file appears in a synced folder on your laptop. Photos can drop straight into Google Photos. I use Android Messages on the web, can drop a chrome app to the Mac desktop if you want, it is seamless with the phone (and Hangouts still works too). I don't have any need for a shared clipboard, (maybe I use things like Google Keep for that?), but I know you can use pushbullet or the like.

Thank you. Sharing files and URLs is going to work just fine.

What about communicating? I tend to avoid typing on my phone, and I heavily rely on the pattern of receiving SMS or iMessage messages on the phone and replying later when I get to my laptop or answering inbound calls on my laptop. These two would be the toughest to lose.

Basically, I loathe interacting with the phone if I have a laptop in front of me. An Android will probably constantly want my attention to answer texts and calls.

Google has jammed up messaging pretty badly, most by rolling out too many products, and not making one clear choice. I'm going to presume you would use Android Messages, unless you are already using Google Voice or Hangouts. If you use Android Messages, you can receive a message on your phone and respond via the Messages for Web web page (which I have as a Chrome desktop app on Mac).

Probably not what you have in mind, but today I saw that KDE interacts well with a phone app to ease device interaction.


I'm an oldtime KDE user and honestly I love using KDE connect. I never used a Apple product so I'm not familiar with how this ecosystem manages device interaction. On the other hand I'm too cheap to use something more than second a hand Lenovo, a Dell tower and a midrange Xiaomi.

In addition to the sibling comments, I use Join by joaoapps on my Android to approximate what you do with my Mac. I am able to push screenshots and photos to immediately download on my Mac, send SMS from my Mac, and automatically send my clipboard to/from my devices. It's a very powerful app that I couldn't live without and would meet a lot of your needs.

I sincerely hope that headphone jacks will return as a fad. Not everyone has bluetooth wireless charging everything, nor do many want that. If you must get rid of the 3.5mm port, why not have dual USB-C to charge and listen at once?

This doesn't really fix your "charge-while-listening" dilemma, but I'm surprised more people don't bring up just buying earphones that use USBC as input. No dongle to lose. Sure, they're a little more expensive, but for someone like me who rarely uses headphones and really only cares about having earphones that stay in my ear/aren't uncomfortable, it's made transitioning to a newwer iphone easy.

> just buying earphones that use USBC as input

Ugh. No way. Phones are pretty much the only devices that are letting go of their headphone jacks. A USB-C headphone is extremely limited in its use, and is guaranteed to cost more than one with a 3.5mm plug. How are you going to watch a movie on an airplane with your USB-C headphones?

Bluetooth headphones are just as bad. You can get a passable set of wired headphones for < $30. Good luck finding a pair of bluetooth headphones worth it in that price range.

FWIW I've been pleasantly surprised by Walmart's sub-$10 Bluetooth headphones, made by Onn. Particularly impressive is their bass response, easily beating much more expensive earbuds I have had. Obviously Bluetooth buds aren't for audiophiles but these are very impressive for the price!

Because then you can't buy earphones that have been carefully engineered by audio companies to produce good sound, because those all come with 3.5 mm jacks.

Because it will not work with the rest of your gear.

Just last night I met some new people at a bar/restaurant, we went back to one of their places, and spent the evening drinking tequila while passing around an aux cable to share music while we hung out and talked for hours. And many, many times I've been a passenger in a car that only has an aux cable for listening to music, and I've been able to put on music.

I realized how silly it would've been to be unable to participate in those moments.

That seems like a pretty fringe use-case, the last time I listened to my music at someone else's house, I just paired my phone with their soundbar, took all of 30 seconds to do.

Even aux ports aren't that common in cars, certainly less common than bluetooth in recent cars - a 3.5mm -> FM Transmitter adapter seems like it would be more universal.

Or how silly it is you're using wires when bluetooth speakers and bluetooth-enabled radios have been around for the past 10 years or so...

Yeah, sure sounds like fun doing the entire bluetooth "oh, let me pair, wait it's not coming up in my list, maybe you need to unpair first..." etc. dance over and over instead of just swapping out a cable in a second.

Tangled cords, frayed and broken cables, finding room for those cables...yeah no thanks. And maybe you need better devices, never a problem on my iphones. Just pop in my airpods and just works. Or start my truck and it just works. Or switch on my bluetooth speaker and it just works. Seriously, bluetooth has evolved to the point that wires don't make sense to me anymore.

Many cars disable Bluetooth pairing while the car is in motion, so you couldn't even "be the DJ" if your phone was not already paired with your car/truck beforehand. It's fine if it's just you and you are pairing just your phone, but if your friends wanna participate on a road trip and just want to use their phone it could be a problem.

Having a headphone jack does not prevent you from using Bluetooth. Not having a headphone jack makes your phone objectively less useful.

You were presented with a usecase where a wire provides a convienence that Bluetooth can't match. How can you just ignore that and say wires don't make sense?

I happen to like my Very Expensive IEMs. I prefer not using the shitty "pixel buds" that google prefers I use.

Sure, dongles give you the option when the headphone jack is removed. It's just one more thing to remember to bring and possibly lose though. I like being able to grab just the phone and earbud headphones and not have to worry about it.

You could glue the dongle to the headphones.

Or just leave it plugged in, i don't think the glue is really necessary. I bought one of these, on the grounds of some good reviews on audiophile sites:


It's tiny, so it just becomes part of the earphone cable.

Oh wow, I didn't know there were DAC cables, and this is pretty cheap as far as DACs go

It's quite a bit more than a stock phone adapter (46 USD vs 10-15 USD), but still a lot less than, say, a Dragonfly Red (200 USD). And far more compact than the latter.

I have the Sonata paired with some 30 GBP Chi-Fi earphones in my walking-around bag, and a Dragonfly Red paired with some 130 GBP Chi-Fi earphones in my cycling bag. The bike bag can afford to carry the bulkier equipment!

Now i just need to get a motorbike or something, so i can logically justify buying a Dragonfly Cobalt and some really nice earphones ...

And then you can't use the headphones anywhere else.

Then I won't be able to use them with my Macbook Pro

Dongles wear out the USB-C port.

The USB-C port is designed for 10,000 cycles, so you can plug/unplug your dongle/power 5 times a day for 5 years without wearing it out, which seems like it would be good enough for most people.

"This device is not compatible with the Google Pixel device."

Aren't these things standard yet?

I got the LG G7 not too long ago, not only has a jack but also a built in DAC

All phones have built in DACs.

There is a significant difference between the barebones DAC and a phone like the LGG7 which has a big focus on audio, both through the jack as well as through their boombox speaker.

They don't all have DACs attached to output pins.

I've heard some good things about the LG G7 regarding audio. It seems to be able to drive the HD600 pretty damn well even without an external amp.

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