Now Laptops Are Ditching the Headphone Jack

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Image: ASUS

Audiophiles weren’t happy when Apple removed the 3.5 mm headphone jack from the iPhone in 2016, which led other smartphone giants (e.g., Samsung) to follow suit. The same thing might be happening in the laptop world as marketing departments push to make devices thinner and thinner.

As spotted by users on r/Hardware, ASUS has debuted two new ZenBook devices – the ZenBook 13 UX333FA and ZenBook 14 UX425JA – but neither of them have headphone jacks. The only ports they have are Thunderbolt 3 USB-C (2x), USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A (1x), and standard HDMI (1x).

Now, wait a second – if there’s room for a USB 3.2 port, shouldn’t there be room for a 3.5 mm jack? Probably, but ASUS avoided this argument by claiming that most consumers have switched to wireless solutions (e.g., Bluetooth headphones) and no longer require the aging port. Another excuse is that the jack would have prevented ASUS from fitting larger components, such as the 22-hour battery, but internal chassis shots seem to suggest otherwise.

ASUS has included a USB-C to audio jack dongle for 3.5 mm diehards, but being that the ZenBooks are being marketed as having “a full complement of I/O ports,” the lack of a built-in one is pretty weird.

Some users have pointed out that Microsoft’s Surface Pro X has also ditched the 3.5 mm headphone jack, but that’s technically a tablet. You can decide which to blame if a rush of companies start releasing laptops without one.

“The compact, thin and ultralight all-metal design of ZenBook 14 makes it the ideal traveling companion,” a blurb on the official landing page reads. “It’s also the world’s thinnest 14-inch laptop to feature a full set of I/O ports — including HDMI and USB Type-A — so you can enjoy versatile connectivity wherever you are.”

Tsing Mui
News poster at The FPS Review.

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