OnePlus CEO Responds To Criticism Over Headphone Jack Removal

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In short: OnePlus co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Pete Lau responded to criticism about the company's decision to ship the upcoming OnePlus 6T Android smartphone without a headphone jack. In a recent interview with CNET, the industry veteran said the firm resolved to ditch the popular 3.5mm connector in favor of making space for the smartphone's in-display fingerprint reader. "This has been one of the most difficult decisions for us to make," Mr. Lau said, adding that the company is always looking to find a "balance" in features offered by its handsets.

Background: This summer, OnePlus suggested the headphone jack has been removed because the majority of the company's customers already own a pair of wireless headphones, citing a survey conducted on its forums. A company official also indicated the OnePlus 6T will have a higher-capacity battery as a result of the move. Previous benchmark sightings pointed to a 3,700mAh cell being part of the package, whereas the OnePlus 6 was fueled by a 3,300mAh unit. While many manufacturers used similar battery-focused reasoning in the past, the claim that an in-display fingerprint reader is much harder to commercialize alongside a headphone jack is new. Almost every currently available device utilizing that technology, such as the Vivo X21 UD, is also equipped with a 3.5mm connector.

Impact: While OnePlus appears to be well aware of how polarizing its headphone jack removal is among Android enthusiasts, one of its largest target demographics, the company appears to have made its mind and won't be returning to the 3.5mm port with any one of its future products either. Its partnership with T-Mobile US should allow it to offset any lost sales caused by the controversial decision, as will other new distribution agreements it's expected to make in other parts of the world by the end of the year.

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