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Audio Jack 3,5mm

The audio jack has been a hot topic in the industry in the last few years. Here you'll find info about audio jacks and Fairphone.

Click here to jump to Fairphone 3(+) and Fairphone 2

 


No audio jack on the Fairphone 4

In 2021, we released Fairphone 4, our first smartphone without a headphone jack. As a small player in the electronics industry with a mission to build a market for ethical phones and motivate the industry to act more responsibly, we often have to make tough decisions. Whether it comes to the selection of materials, partner collaborations, certifications or design, we always carefully weigh the pros and cons of every decision we make. So when considering the option to include or exclude the headphone jack, we did not take this decision lightly.

Factors that have tipped the balance towards exclusion of the headphone jack are: modularity and its influence on the phone’s size and weight, market and legislative trends and longevity. We had to sacrifice the headphone jack to make the modules as accessible as possible. It was a tough decision to make but there was simply no space for everything and we had to make some choices. In the end, in order to build a modular, 5G device, this was the best way to go for the majority of users. If the phone were bigger than it already is (and we get a lot of feedback on it being too big), it wouldn’t be commercially viable and that would limit the impact we could have on the industry.

Any decision we made would have supporters and detractors. Our main goal, however, was to ensure that we made a product that combines repairability with industry-competitive dimensions. On top of that, we wanted to create a product that lasts for at least five years. We also wanted to attract a growing audience, which would allow us to make a bigger impact on the industry.

Here are some of the key reasons why we came to the decision to remove the headphone jack:

 

Modularity and its influence on the phone’s size and weight

Fairphone 4 is already thick by industry standard because modular design makes our phone bigger than average. Modularity allows users to repair their phone easily and keep it for as long as possible. Including the headphone jack would have made the phone longer and thicker. We also know from consumer feedback that smaller dimensions are very important for handling and ergonomics.

 

Market and legislative trends

USB-C ports are becoming the standard for charging, particularly in Europe due to legislation. When we started designing Fairphone 4, we wanted the phone to be a future-proof device, one that could be used for at least the next five years. Part of that strategy is including features that we forecast to become more popular in the coming years, such as eSims and 5G, and not including those that are becoming less pervasive, such as the headphone jack.

 

Longevity

Our starting point for design is longevity, which means making our devices more repairable, a very different approach to the electronics industry standard. To support maximum longevity and because of the IP rating, Fairphone 4 does not feature a headphone jack. In the end, it comes down to how we make a product that lasts for at least five years. We needed to eliminate as many vulnerabilities as possible, and the headphone jack is subject to dust and water ingress over time.

 

Alternatives

If you have a device that uses a 3.5mm audio jack, we don't want you to throw it away. You can still listen to your favorite playlists, videos, and podcasts with your headphones or speakers. There are two possibilities:

To ensure that this won't impact the Fairphone 4's longevity, the Fairphone 4 USB-C port is now a standalone spare part. If necessary, you can replace it with a screwdriver.

 

Additional information about adapters

-IMPORTANT-
Without a DAC chip in the adapter, the Fairphone 4 (and the Fairphone 3) wouldn't be able to play audio via the USB-C port.

DAC Charging Dongle Cables can be a solution in case you need both charging and audio. An analogue adapter will not work. 
Plug the adapter into the USB-C port of your Fairphone 4, and you can start listening!

The Fairphone USB-C to Mini Audio Jack Adapter is compatible with both TRS and TRRS jacks. When it comes to TRRS, it is compatible with both CTIA and OMTP. In simpler terms, it can be used for audio input as well as output. This enables the use of headsets with microphones or a standalone microphone.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Would you consider reinstating the headphone jack in your next products?

In the current user feedback (source: Trustpilot) we see more people being critical about the current Fairphone dimensions than about the fact that they have to use an adapter for using devices with headphone jack. Hence, at this stage we would not consider reinstating the headphone jack in our upcoming devices.

Q: Did you remove the headphone jack so you could sell true wireless earbuds?

No, we wanted to make the product we are making (Fairphone 4) more durable as well as competitive so that we can be more impactful.  We also wanted to move into a new product segment and raise the bar on sustainability for the earbuds segment. Earbuds are an easy entry point for consumers who aren’t ready to commit to buying a smartphone but want to support the work we are doing. Based on our website statistics, we also believe that consumers have no trouble finding our headphone jack adapter which allows them to keep using their audio products without having to buy wireless earbuds.

 


Fairphone 3(+) and Fairphone 2 audio jack specifications

The Fairphone 3(+) and Fairphone 2 use the standard AHJ=CTIA (ground=2) - on the right image below.

Audio_Jack_standards.jpg

There are different standards in using the 4-pins of a headset with mic (and remote). Here you can find the explanation about the different types and with a simple measurement you can check what (wired) headset you have with the image above.

We do not have the capacity to test headphones and we are not in the position to endorse the use of any brands or types of headphones. However, we invite you to visit our awesome community via the forum to make a nice list of good headphones that you and others have tried out.

Such a list is already available for headphones that our users tested with Fairphone 2.

 

If you are looking for information about Bluetooth headphones, headsets, or external speakers consult the articles Connect via Bluetooth and Troubleshoot a Bluetooth connection.

 

What to do if your audio device does not work

If your device does not work on your Fairphone 3(+) or Fairphone 2:

  1. Make sure your device is compatible with the Fairphone and, in general, Android devices. Headsets made for Apple devices might not work.
  2. If the problem persists, check that your headphone jack is not damaged. Try at least 3 different headphones to deduce if it is really the headphone jack of the Fairphone that causes the problem and not a broken device.

 


If after reading the article you need more help, contact our Customer Support.