SAMSUNG DOES NOT INCLUDE HEADPHONES IN THE GALAXY FOLD
Samsung's vision of tomorrow's phones does not include a headphone jack.
The Galaxy Fold was the most exciting announcement at Samsung's Galaxy unpacked event by a long shot. While the new S10 and its variants look like top-tier phones, it was the fold that captured everyone's imagination. As Samsung CEO DJ Koh proudly stated at the event, the fold "sets this industry on a new path." And apparently, it's a path that, unlike the rest of the phones Samsung announced today, does not include a 3.5mm headphone jack.
It's a sour note on what otherwise seems like a really interesting product. And if the Galaxy Fold is the future of Samsung smartphones, then it might be time for users to start saying goodbye to the beloved headphone jack.
Whether or not to include a headphone jack is a decision that has painted a line in the sand between phone manufacturers, and we've always known which side of the line Samsung was on. But now, Samsung is straddling the divide. 1 1 side of the face, there's the S10 phones, the ultimate refinement of the Galaxy S formula that Samsung has been perfecting for nearly a decade. On the other side is the Galaxy Fold, setting the stakes for the next decade. The past has a headphone jack; the future does not.
Samsung is packing a lot of technology into the Galaxy Fold.
The headphone jack isn't the only standard feature missing from the fold. Also gone is the microSD card slot, a feature Samsung once tried to remove with the Galaxy S6, only to bring it back (after customer complaints) with the S7 in 2016. It's been a line item ever since.
Samsung's design decision may simply come down to space. Samsung is packing a lot of technology into the Galaxy Fold, and it's possible that there simply isn't enough room for a headphone jack or microSD card slot, two features that tend to take up a lot of space internally. And as a first-generation device in an entirely new category, it's very likely that Samsung will continue to refine things in future generations, especially after it gets feedback from customers who actually use the phone after it comes out in April.
Part of the problem could also be usability. Samsung envisions the user constantly flipping and bending the fold around as they rotate and switch screens. A headphone cord may not make much sense in that context.
But there may be more to it than that. Samsung is also including a pair of its new Wireless Galaxy Buds with the Galaxy fold (so it should, considering the $1,980 starting price point). It's a strategy that could hint that, like Apple and its airpods, which coincidentally were announced alongside the iPhone 7 when Apple has axed the headphone jack, Samsung is looking to start decoupling its customers from the analog port and push them forward into the digital, wireless future of a Bluetooth headset world. In 2016, we argued that this was a hostile and stupid user decision. In 2019, we can still argue that, but wireless headphones are looking a little better.
As Samsung said at the event, the Galaxy Fold is meant to be a high-end luxury device, not a mainstream one in the same way that the S10 (and its headphone jack) is meant to be. But it's equally telling that Samsung's idea of a luxury phone is one that doesn't try to CRAM in every feature a customer might want.
Hope is not completely lost yet. As mentioned above, Samsung had a similar cycle when it went without a MicroSD card slot, only to add it back due to customers requesting the flexibility. It's possible that a similar change could happen down the line with a headphone jack for a future Fold, too.
But given the way the smartphone presents tendency to trickle down from more premium options to more mainstream models, and the flag Samsung is looking to plant in the sand with the Galaxy fold, it might be time to start preparing for a wireless future... or to invest in a set of USB C to 3.5mm dongles.