One of the best devices that we saw at MWC 2018 was the new Xperia XZ2 and Xperia XZ2 Compact smartphones being launched by Sony. The company always seems to be a bit of an afterthought in the smartphone market, but they keep plugging away with nice devices despite struggles to capture market share. One factor that helps the company is their strong capabilities in fields like audio and televisions which enables them to port over some tech to smartphones. This makes for a curious decision on Sony’s part to drop the 3.5mm audio jack in the new devices. Sony recently tried to explain their decision via a FAQ posting.
According to Sony, two factors influenced the decision. First, they claim the loss of the headphone jack was part of their decision to adopt “Ambient Flow” which is their marketing-speak for adoption of a bezel-less design. How exactly the bezel-less design update would force dropping of the 3.5mm audio jack is unclear. Other manufacturers have managed to retain the jack with similar design cues.
Why did you remove the headphone jack on XZ2 and XZ2 Compact?
This is part of the shift to our new Ambient Flow design language. In order to create the beautiful seamless design, our designers needed to remove the headphone jack. Plus, we’re aware of the major market trend toward wireless headphones over wired headphones.
But can I still use wired headphones with XZ2 or XZ2 Compact?
Yes absolutely, both new smartphones come boxed with an adaptor. This will also support Hi-Res Audio.
The other factor according to Sony is a move by consumers to purchase wireless headphones. This seems to be a bit of a chicken and egg issue though as any move to wireless headphones by consumers may be driven by manufacturers dropping the audio jack versus a preference for the sound quality available via wireless headphones, which is generally considered to be inferior to wired units.
Sony tries to allay that quality issue by pointing out that the new headsets will still support Hi-Res Audio. To get that though, consumers will have to use a wired headset and a conversion cable, so wireless headset users will not benefit from that feature.
What do you think of Sony dropping the audio jack and their explanation for the decision?