Intel wants to replace the 3.5mm headphone connection with USB Type-C

There’s been a rumour circling for some time now that Apple is planning to remove the 3.5mm headphone port from the upcoming iPhone 7. It looks like Apple will instead make the Lightning port double-up as the headphone connection. Why? Ultimately to make the iPhone slimmer.

And it seems Apple isn't the only one with the 3.5mm headphone jack in its crosshairs. Intel has proposed that manufacturers drop the classic headphone connection and instead use the USB Type-C port for audio. The proposal was made at the Intel Developer Forum in Shenzhen, China, and the company is hoping the rest of the electronics industry will want to follow suit.

Intel says its new version of the connection would be able to output analogue and digital audio, and it promises to deliver a set of audio specifications by the end of this quarter. Ideally for Intel, manufacturers of mobile devices and PCs would then agree to use these specs when building future phones and tablets.

MORE: Apple Lightning headphones - everything you need to know

This would allow for the removal of the 3.5mm connection and, according to Intel, could see a push towards digital - with headphones with integrated DACs that are capable of taking a digital signal from, say, a phone. Of course it's already possible to do this using the existing digital outputs on PCs or via the Lightning connection on an iPhone.

It may be some time before we see a universal roll out of the new technology, though Google released the Nexus 6P (made by Huawei) with a USB-C connection last year, while Chinese manufacturer LeEco has taken the extra step, removing the headphone connection and only offering USB-C on three new phones.

The 3.5mm analogue headphone connection has certainly been around a while, so we wouldn't bet against an update, even if the thought of two potential headphone connection options for future phones, tablets and even computers - Lightning and USB Type-C - already sounds like it could be confusing for consumers.

Source: Anandtech, The Verge

Max is a staff writer for What Hi-Fi?'s sister site, TechRadar, in Australia. But being the wonderful English guy he is, he helps out with content across a number of Future sites, including What Hi-Fi?. It wouldn't be his first exposure to the world of all things hi-fi and home cinema, as his first role in technology journalism was with What Hi-Fi? in the UK. Clearly he pined to return after making the move to Australia and the team have welcomed him back with arms wide open.