Discussing the sustainability of removing the 3.5mm jack

I can’t remember the last time I saw someone use a pair of wired headphones. The only issue I would see with wireless headphones is they aren’t designed for the user to replace the batteries. So if Fairphone were to provide a pair of bluetooth headphones, this should ideally be possible.

I suspect Fairphone buy some of their hardware from ODM (original design manufacturer) that other companies use and then rebrand them. The question is if any of these ODM are manufacturing wireless headphones with user replaceable batteries?

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The headphones I see are mostly for gaming these days, and those are either USB-A or wireless. Wired headphones with 3.5mm are becoming less and less common from what I can tell.

The market is heading wireless, and fairphone is just following this trend. It is that easy.

Best wishes,
Thomas

Hi Private and welcome to the forum

All your points are very valid.

One advantage of a wired headset is the user is not open to be hacked, but those with hearing problems will use bluetooth aids so it make sense to have a phone with that option. So how many people want both.

Maybe Fairphone will make a module than can be added ?

Regarding sustainability, it depends upon what you want to sustain and what resource you want to consume to feed that. There is no sustainability model it’s just preference.

If supporting fair trade is the focus then the type of phone or headset is not relevant. Users have focus and make a choice and some of that is wishing other people will manufacture items to suit them.

Business is business and fair trade is a part of that.

Everyone is able to via a simple 3.5 mm to USB-C converter. There are even more conplex ones which allow charging and 3.5 mm audio at the same time.

A lot of wireless headphones have difficult to impossible to replace batteries. Only a few are user replaceable without destroying the hardware.

Hi JeroenH

Regarding your first point

The OP had mentioned that

and there are a number of other topics that cover this aspect and show options in line with your assertions.

And whereas your second point supports the notion that not having a jack may not be sustainable in the eyes of the OP, some earbuds seem to be up to having the battery changed.

There’s also an iFixit guide to a Samsung replacement

Anyone with a wireless headset will be fine with the FP4 and presumably tied into the battery issue.

Let’s hope the Fairphone earbuds are more than sourced as fair as possible but are easy enough to open and swap batteries

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I have three reasons why I prefer wired headphones for now:

  • Price: Wired headphones are cheaper than their wireless counterparts.
  • Compatibility: I can use wired headphones with nearly every audio device around me. For example, pocket radios only work with wired headphones. These are needed because many smartphones (including FP3/FP4) have no built-in radio.
  • Convenience: Plug the audio cable in, and the headphones work – no pairing required. Also, I don’t have to look after the headphones’ battery. And it is harder to lose wired headphones than their wireless counterparts.

In terms of sustainability, I don’t know which type of headphones is leading: The most prevalent failure cause of my wired headphones is the cable.

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Not to forget the Fairphone wired ones have a replaceable cable :slight_smile:

I think that a plugged-in USB-cable will break the connector very easily as it is straight versus a rectangular plug at my wired headphones. That would be the opposite of sustainability.

What if I would like to connect my CD-Player to my phone to listen the CD via the speaker of my phone? I guess that is easily identified as nonsense, but it shows that not every wish could be satisfied.

Nevertheless, as Fairphone always points out: the most sustainable solution is to use the devices you already own. Leaving out the headphone jack makes a lot of headphones unusable (because of the mechanical issue of a straight USB-plug at a phone which I carry in my pocket). So in general I agree with you that leaving out the headphone jack might not be the most sustainable option.

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I was pretty angry seeing that the new fairphone have no headphone Jack, and I cannot understand how people interested into sustainability can take this so lightly.

Making this choice if the phone was an ip68 standard could be understandable for me, but this not even the case. “The market is heading wireless, and fairphone is just following this trend. It is that easy.” The market is also heading SUV and high energy waste. This is not a good reason to deal with it. And following trends is absolutely not why I chosed a fairphone.

I’m the kind of users who always use headphone, for listening music, making my voice calls while I’m working on my computer, etc. I was pretty disapointed discovering that the FP3 had the worst headphone output I ever heard. So I decided to purchase an USB DAC to plug into the USB port. Spoiler alert : it wasn’t a good idea. The mechanical constraints on the USB-C port while using it to listen music in my pocket made it unusable to charge the phone and to transfer datas in less than two months. So I had to change the bottom module and never use my dac again to have a good audio quality in travel. On a 450€ phone, this is unacceptable. A 3.5mm jack, it’s just a barrel and a metal plug. A headphone + micro it’s just some grams of cooper, no silicium, no lithium batteries, just, copper. This is pretty simple, and damn solid and good audio chips are pretty easy to find and to integrate. Forcing users to buy wasteable electronics, with so poor audio quality and so bad ecological impact is for me, absolutely the opposite of what a “fair” phone should be.

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I considered being angry, but found that I just couldn’t after realizing that the USB C port is its own separate part. That’s a big step forward that personally made me very happy.
Very Happy - Angry = Happy. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Hi and welcome to the forum, though I can understand your disappointment. Though the annoyance or should I say ‘anger’ is sadly down to you and many people who want more than is provided for them.

Luckily I bought an FP3 as I use wired headsets, although infrequently. The sound form the ear-jack seems fine to me and if I buy the FP4 then I’ll be getting the USB DAC enabled adapter. Sad but true…
I used to maintain vacuum tube amplifiers, every part was replaceable and pretty much all copper and other simple elements.

Am I angry with the moves made via technology, no, just feeling my age.

My old amps were sustainable in that I could fix them and there was little waste, but the amount of mineral it used and the amount of power to run it, well that was another age. Thought we’d have moved on to other plants by now ~ progress, if you can call it that is so very very slow that it doesn’t look like progress at all.

All very fancy but not backwards compatible with me.

With that reasoning, why would fairphone even care about fairtrade or sustainability, since sourcing components sustainably has extra costs and fairtrade is more expensive too, they could make a lot more profits by ignoring both. But since fairphone has built it’s brand on sustainability, it is hypocritical to say they made this stupidly unsustainable move just cause it’s the current trend, it goes against the company’s advertised values.

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A CD player is a player, not an audio output device, same way your phone is a player when you play music. You never could connect two players to each other, and it’s got nothing to do with what we’re talking about here.

If 99% of the users never take advantage of the headphone jack, so only 1% need to buy the adapter, would it be more sustainable to built in the jack for everyone?
There is not only one use case, so judging sustainability only from your point of view might not the only possible way.

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We also have to remember that not everyone will buy a phone based on if it has a mini-jack or not… People use their smartphones for other tasks besides music and video.

Hi, thanks for your answer.

No, I think you don’t understand what’s the point with my post. Probably because as a good french, I’m not comfortable with english.

in most situations, I do not want more, I want less.

My anger is not about my use case witch is not satisfied. My use case just shows me a pretty bad engineering choice. I never use the photo module, so I will not understand most of the choices made with it, and i cannot judge if they’re good or not. My anger is about selling a so called sustainable smartphone with, for me, so poor engineering choice.

if we just take pro/cons for this wireless technology, the only pro it that : this is wireless. Is a wire so uncomfortable to use to justify using a so complicated and wasteful technology or taking risks for the usb ports ? As an engineer and an user caring about ecology, my answer is absolutely no. And for me, Fairphone as a flagship of sustainable technology have the responsibility to encourage solid and dumb technologies against wasteful ones, this is where my anger comes from.

For example, in my opinion, the fact is uses the 5G technology is not a good choice, 5G is useless, and, more, in my opinion it should stay useless if we want a more clever world. But I understand
that this is the new standard, people could have some usages i cannot understand which justify this tech. So ok, I accept this as a change, as i accepted a transistor amplifier (but not for my guitar amplifier, never :wink: ).

For my case I’ll keep my FP3 as long as it can be and never buy a FP4 because this is for me, a bad device, which seems more about green washing than real willness to change things
and that’s all.

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You do realize that your arguments are very onesided? What you find “useless” is somehing others will find fantastic. The reason they removed the minijack has been stated to make the device water resistant, something that will benefit all users regardless of if they use headphones or not.

overall this was discussed already over and over again and is now just a repetion without any new arguments, neither pro nor contra. you will not come to 1 conclusion for everyone, so overall this is going in circles with no outcome that make really everyone happy.

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Yes and no - of course you can’t, but a phone is a device with a speaker, so in theory one could feed the USB-connector with digital input to play it through the speaker, then the phone would act as a speaker.

What I wanted to point out was that I think that not every wish can be fulfilled by Fairphone, while you demanded that every choice should be left to the owner.

Nevertheless I think that dropping the headphone jack is a bad choice of Fairphone, as a lot of people still use wired headphones which they already own.

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