Speculation is growing about the Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone, especially given ongoing safety issues with the company’s Galaxy Note 7 handset.
The upcoming Galaxy S8 is set to be an incredibly important product for the South Korean tech giant. It will be the flagship smartphone that sets the tone for the company in 2017, and it will also be a major part of efforts to make up for battery issues that have plagued the Note 7. Now it looks as though the handset will feature a USB-C port that could be used for audio, negating the need for a 3.5 mm headphone jack, according to a press release from the USB Implementers Forum.
Samsung has some making up to do
Not only does the Galaxy S8 need to be reliable, it has to maintain Samsung’s reputation for innovation. In that regard it has been rumored that the smartphone will have a 4K screen and a powerful graphics chip, but now it looks like the handset could mimic the iPhone 7 in getting rid of the 3.5 mm audio connector.
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This will be possible thanks to developments in USB-C technology that will allow the connector to be used for audio. In turn this will mean that Samsung can get rid of the audio port and switch to using USB-C instead of microUSB. As a result the company will be able to make a leap in terms of design, with the potential for a thinner handset.
Samsung likes to be known as an innovator so these developments will be most welcome so the company doesn’t appear to be left behind by Apple. In fact several other Android smartphone manufacturers have removed the headphone jack, but Apple is Samsung’s most important rival. It is now down to Samsung to reject Apple’s removal of the headphone jack, or catch up.
Galaxy S8 could get USB-C audio
This is where the announcement from the USB-IF is particularly handy for the company. The organization has announced USB Audio Device Class 3.0 (ADC 3.0) with new guidelines on audio data.
Now Samsung could decide to use USB-C for audio, or it could develop a new proprietary port to replace the 3.5 mm jack. However some people say that all Android devices should use USB-C.
The logic goes that the Android ecosystem would then represent a big enough market for peripheral manufacturers to make devices developed around the new port. USB-C offers plenty of advantages in terms of power efficiency, data transfer and easier waterproofing, so there are plenty of reasons to attract Samsung to using it.
Multiple advantages for South Korean tech giant
If Samsung is to get rid of the 3.5 mm headphone jack, it would arguably be better choosing USB-C over a proprietary port. Not only would this keep audio accessories easier to buy, it would encourage manufacturers to commit to the Android ecosystem and boost innovation in design.
One argument says that Apple has taken the media backlash for getting rid of the audio jack, and other manufacturers could now follow with less criticism. Makers of smartphones, tablets and ultraportable laptops will all be able to design devices without the 3.5 mm port in the near future, and use USB-C instead.
Apple has been criticized for forcing users to invest in new accessories. The same criticism would surely be leveled at Samsung if it made consumers get USB-C headphones, but the improvements in audio could be worth it.
Sound quality is improving rapidly, but the removal of the headphone jack will also allow for slimmer devices. Waterproofing would also benefit from the loss of an obvious hole in the device casing.
Improved sound quality could silence naysayers
USB-C headphones will be less power hungry, and offer better sound quality. Experts say that voice recognition will also be boosted by the headphones. Given that one of the major complaints against Apple is the comparably worse audio quality with the new setup, improvements could keep audiophiles quiet.
In fact it looks as though the smartphone world is moving away from the headphone jack. In addition to the iPhone 7, Motorola and LeEco have also launched devices that don’t have a 3.5 mm audio port.
It would be little surprise to see that Samsung removes the port for the Galaxy S8. Doing so, and introducing a USB-C port, would allow the company to keep up its image as an innovator, and could bring plenty of future benefits by adding more clout to the Android ecosystem as a whole.
Keep your eye out for the latest updates on this story. Samsung hasn’t made any official announcement as of yet, so take all of the rumors with a pinch of salt.