Apple may not be the only company about to ditch the century-old 3.5mm analog audio connector with the release of the next iPhone this fall. AnandTech reported this morning that the semiconductor giant Intel is backing the industry’s “strong desire to move from analog to digital” by proposing that the 3.5mm audio jack be replaced with USB-C on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.
USB-C audio with smart features
Unlike the industry-standard 3.5mm analog audio, USB-C provides a number of benefits in terms of audio equipment connectivity, including sending data along with audio, no shielding required to prevent interference, the ability to draw power from the host device, automatic device discovery, easy software updates, a much smaller form factor versus the 3.5mm jack and more.
Replacing analog with digital
The move would require the USB Audio Device Class 2.0 specification to be updated to include more recent audio specifications and features like a simplified discovery model. The new specification should be finalized “later this quarter”, according to Intel’s slide.
Good-bye 3.5mm jack, it’s been nice knowing you!
I’m glad that the 3.5mm jack’s days are finally numbered and that the industry is working now to phase it out as soon as possible. However, legacy audio equipment will need to be updated if the aging plug is to be replaced with USB-C everywhere.
Intel acknowledged as much, saying that the new digital audio “needs to offer significant value at higher end” so that makers of inexpensive devices like feature phones see commercial feasibility in adopting digital headsets that connect via USB-C cables.