Opinion: OnePlus Isn't Telling The Full Story Behind Its Headphone Jack Removal

OnePlus has announced that it is getting rid of the headphone jack with the upcoming OnePlus 6T. For a company that used the motto "Never Settle" when referring to its smartphones, essentially giving its customers everything without charging massive prices, this is a pretty stark turn of events. But there's a reason (a few actually) why OnePlus has decided to ditch the headphone jack. The most obvious one is who its parent and sister companies are. OnePlus is essentially owned by BBK Electronics who also owns OPPO and Vivo. Since its inception, OnePlus has essentially been using OPPO smartphones as its own, with very little modifications. But that has changed in the past year or two. For example, the OnePlus 6 is almost the exact same phone as the OPPO R15 Pro - the only real difference is the repositioned dual-camera system and the existence of a USB-C port. And that is the main reason why the OnePlus 6T will not have a headphone jack.

OPPO R17 Pro vs OnePlus 6T

While the actual OnePlus 6T has not yet been announced, Pete Lau and Carl Pei from OnePlus have been "leaking" out specs and features of the upcoming device, so we know it's coming and we have a pretty good idea of what to expect. That includes the droplet notch that the OPPO R17 Pro is sporting, as well as the in-display fingerprint sensor that the R17 Pro is also sporting. And all of the other aspects of the OnePlus 6T that have leaked are the same as what the OPPO R17 Pro features. And that right there is the reason for getting rid of the headphone jack. It is likely much easier for OnePlus to take the R17 Pro from OPPO and adapt it to its users, and adding a headphone jack to that body would take a lot of time and cost more money for OnePlus.

OnePlus's Argument for Wireless Headphones

While speaking with TechRadar earlier this month about removing the headphone jack from the OnePlus 6T, Carl Pei noted that most users had already gone wireless. Before the company came out with their Bullets Wireless headphones, around 59-percent of their users already owned a pair of wireless headphones. So OnePlus believed now was a good time to remove the headphone jack. Pei said that if OnePlus had removed the 3.5mm connector two years ago, that would have "caused a lot of friction," though there is still going to be plenty of friction with the OnePlus 6T. 59-percent is really not a big number, especially when OnePlus only surveyed its forum users. That means that there is likely a big portion of its users that did not answer that survey, so that number is misrepresentative.

OnePlus argues that it got the 59-percent number before Bullets Wireless came out with the OnePlus 6 earlier this year, and it believes that the number is much higher now. But that shouldn't be the reason to get rid of the headphone jack. Especially since that means about 41-percent of its users would need to buy a pair of headphones. And that highlights another reason why OnePlus is opting to get rid of the headphone jack. That is to sell more of its headphones. It introduced its wireless headphones earlier this year but also introduced a USB-C version of these Bullets headphones last week. Why? Because there's no headphone jack, but there is a USB-C port on the OnePlus 6T (and arguably other OnePlus smartphones moving forward). So that even those that don't want to use a pair of wireless headphones, have a wired option here. But as many know, USB-C audio is still pretty bad. So while OnePlus will argue that it allows them to add more technology into the OnePlus 6T  - and it is saying that battery life will be improved - the bigger reason is likely to sell more headphones.

Why OnePlus users are upset with the headphone jack removal

While, yes, a number of users have moved onto using wireless headphones, that doesn't mean that it's not nice to have that headphone jack on their smartphone for those times they need to use a pair of wired headphones. Think about it this way. You go to the gym, take out your wireless headphones, and there's no charge. Well, you can't plug in your pair of wired headphones since there's no headphone jack on the OnePlus 6T, instead, you are stuck with no music while you workout. That's just one of many examples.

Audiophiles are not fans of the headphone jack being removed, and this is primarily because the audio quality from a wired connection is far better than from a wireless connection. Now yes, wireless headphones have really improved audio quality over the past few years, but they still aren't as good as a pair of wireless headphones. As an example, the audio quality from the Sony WH-1000X M2's is pretty good when using it as a pair of wireless headphones. But you when you plug them into the same device, the audio quality is much better. Not to mention the fact that audiophiles have likely paid a pretty penny for their preferred headphones, and they most likely are not wireless. Which means that they cannot use them with their new smartphone from OnePlus.

Even for those that aren't audiophiles, wired headphones are still a good option, because it's one less thing to charge. Especially since many Bluetooth headphones are still using micro USB cables. That means that you are going to need to carry around a second cable to charge those headphones since your OnePlus 6T does not charge over micro USB.

OnePlus's "Never Settle" Mantra Is Now About Settling

For a company that used to always talk about "Never Settling", OnePlus sure has settled quite a bit with the past few smartphones. From including a notch in their smartphones, to now getting rid of the headphone jack, OnePlus has settled on many different fronts. While OnePlus has faced backlash on some other changes it has made to its smartphones in recent years, it hasn't really experienced the type of backlash it is seeing after news of removing the headphone jack was announced. It's unlikely any petition or amount of backlash will get OnePlus to change its mind. This is because, at this point, the OnePlus 6T is done, there are just a few minor things being changed and adjusted before it announces the phone (reportedly next month). But the real way to tell OnePlus that you are not happy with this change is to vote with your wallet. If you want the headphone jack, then don't buy the OnePlus 6T. If OnePlus sees a big difference in sales numbers of the OnePlus 6 versus the 6T, it might decide to bring the headphone jack back. Though most companies don't bring a feature back after it has gotten rid of it, so that is still a longshot. But LG and Samsung - both of which are keeping the headphone jack - will be more than glad to take your money.

Conclusion

OnePlus can spin it however they like, but the real reason for the headphone jack to be removed from the OnePlus 6T is because the OPPO R17 does not have one. Like most companies, OnePlus will say that this is so that it can add in more battery capacity or have room for other technologies, which might be true but it's also not its own reasoning. The headphone jack takes up very little space in a smartphone these days anyway. So, it's less believable than it was about five years ago. The other reason for removing the headphone jack was for OnePlus to push its headphones a bit more, especially since it makes the majority of its money off of its accessories - its smartphones are sold almost at a cost, similar to Xiaomi. But if you aren't happy with this decision by OnePlus, the best way to communicate that notion by voting with your wallet.

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About the Author
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Alexander Maxham

Section Editor
Alex has written for Androidheadlines since 2012 as Editor of the site and traveled the World to many of the biggest Smartphone and Technology events. Alex has a background in Technology and IT and Deep Passion for Everything Android and Google. His specialties lay in Smartphones of all budgets, Accessories, Home Automation and more. Contact him at [email protected]
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