Moto Z Devices Use USB Type-C For Headphone Audio

Motorola have today announced the new Moto Z and Moto Z Force devices and the world has been busy taking a look at these two phones. The Moto Z is based around the current flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset, a quad core, 64-bit design with the higher tier of processors clocked at up to 2.2 GHz and the lower tier at 1.6 GHz. This chipset is backed up by 4 GB of RAM. There's a 5.5-inch, QHD resolution display panel, a 12MP rear camera together with optical image stabilization and laser autofocus, and on the front is has a front facing 5MP camera. All this smartphone goodness comes in a thin chassis. By thin, Motorola have built the worldwide Moto Z to be just 5.19mm thin, which includes the magnetic modular rear attachment points and a 2,600 mAh rechargeable battery. The Moto Z Force, which is set to be a North American device at first, packs a 3,500 mAh rechargeable battery and a 21MP rear camera, complete with phase detection autofocus and a deep trench isolation built into the unit. The Z Force also comes with Motorola Shattershield technology but it's a thicker handset at 6.9mm.

With the thinness of these devices, and that they are packing a USB Type-C port, Motorola has decided to abandon the old style 3.5mm headphone port with the Moto Z and Moto Z Force. It's arguably an easier decision for Moto Z customers, as this handset is extremely thin, but it does mean that customers are going to need to find an alternative way to listen to music than the old, somewhat antiquated, 3.5mm headphone socket standard. To make life easier, Motorola is including a 3.5mm audio jack to USB Type-C converter with the devices, which means customers will still be able to use their existing headphones. Customers will, of course, be able to use wireless headsets via the Bluetooth radio as well if they prefer. However, when using the USB Type-C adapter customers will not be able to charge the devices whilst listening to music via the headphones.

Perhaps this change in design was inevitable given that device manufacturers are constantly striving to maximize the efficiency of smartphone designs. The 3.5mm port requires wiring into the motherboard, needing space inside the device. With Motorola adding Moto Mods to the device, perhaps the company needed to save every millimeter inside the handset? Perhaps it is betting that many customers won't mind so much the lack of a headphone port or will readily adapt to using the USB Type-C adapter. Nevertheless, Motorola is the first mainstream smartphone manufacturer to abandon the 3.5mm standard jack for a device family - and this could set the standard for the coming few months.

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David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.