LeEco recently introduced a new line of smartphones with no 3.5mm headphone jack. Instead, you can plug headphones into the LeEco Le 2, Le 2 Pro, and Le 2 Max using the phones’ USB-C ports. Or you can just use Bluetooth headsets.
But LeEco isn’t the only company that thinks 3.5mm ports are on the way out. Apple is said to be working on upcoming iPhones that use Lightning ports for headphones. And AnandTech notes that Intel introduced its own proposal for using USB Type-C connectors for digital audio output.
Among other things, this means that some or all of the audio processing could happen in the headphones themselves, rather than on the phone. This could allow you to upgrade or fine-tune audio quality by upgrading your headphones rather than by replacing your phone.
It also means that headphones themselves might be able to get new features thanks to software updates. It also opens the door to headsets that can do more than just play audio. For example, they could track fitness data and send it to your smartphone.
But headphones with integrated amplifiers and audio processing chips could be more expensive than models without those features.
On the one hand, the idea of having a single port on smartphones that you can use to charge your device, connect it to a computer, plug in headphones, or connect external devices like flash drives is kind of appealing. On the other hand, what happens if you want to listen to music while charging your phone? Do you need to plug your phone into a USB hub?