While plenty of smartphone features have been sunsetted on the way to thinner profiles and sexier bezels, none have garnered the ire of consumers quite as much as the removal of the aged and distinguished 3.5mm headphone jack.
Apple was early to axe the port, and while Andy Rubin's Essential followed suit, a lot of consumers took issue with the move. Essential seems to be taking those complaints and funneling them into a "high end" audio accessory that will include a headphone jack for the device and will attach to the magnetic accessory connector.
Though there have been some rumblings, in a Reddit AMA with Andy Rubin and others from Essential, the team confirmed that the accessory was actively in development.
We are under development on a number of Click Connector accessories. The first available should be the charging dock. We are also actively developing a high end audio accessory to support a 3.5mm jack. We are continuing to look at supporting ideas, like cameras.
The phone already comes with a USB-C to 3.5mm dongle in the box, so it's not entirely clear what will be high-end about the adapter, though one would assume it will pack a nicer DAC and other audio conversion tech so the PonoMusic lovers of the world can have a cellular device that fits their audiophilic needs.
The team dug deep into some more of the reasoning behind getting rid of the jack in the first place. Unsurprisingly it had a lot to do with the component Tetris required to fit in a "bezel-less" display.
Headphone jacks are pretty big components and they don't play nice with all-screen Phone architectures. We studied it very seriously, but fitting a headphone jack into our Phone required tradeoffs we were uncomfortable with. We'd have grow a huge "chin" in the display and reduce the battery capacity by 10%, or we'd need a huge headphone bump! We decided it was more important to have a beautiful full-screen display in a thin device with solid battery life. Then we made sure we to build ya'll a high-quality DAC in a tiny adapter that can elegantly live on your headphones.
No release date was given for the high-end audio accessory, but the company said they are actively testing prototypes.
The Essential Phone just went on sale at Sprint stores today, where it retails for $700.