Google Pixel 6A Kills the Headphone Jack as the Company Comes ‘Full Circle’

It’s easy to forget that Google took a swipe at Apple for ditching the headphone jack.
Google Pixel 6a green back Credit: Google
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It’s become rather quaint how often Apple’s competitors mock the company for doing things that they later turn around and do themselves.

The most notable of these in recent years have been over Apple’s decision to remove the headphone jack in the 2016 iPhone 7. Samsung famously ridiculed Apple for its decision before ditching the 3.5mm jack on the 2018 Galaxy A8.

While it would be another couple of years before Samsung’s new policy covered its entire lineup, today none of its flagship Galaxy smartphones include the 3.5mm jack anymore. It’s clear the world has moved on.

Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that Samsung also released its own wireless earbuds around the same time, and it’s expanded that lineup since then.

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Since Samsung has long been considered Apple’s chief rival, its mockery garnered more attention. However, that makes it easy to forget that Google also took a subtle swipe at Apple for ditching the headphone jack.

In a 2016 ad for the first Google Pixel, which arrived only weeks after Apple unveiled the iPhone 7, Google included the line, “3.5mm headphone jack satisfyingly now new.”

Yet a year later, Google’s Pixel 2 followed in the iPhone 7’s footsteps, removing the headphone jack, and requiring folks to use a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter if they wanted to plug in a set of wired headphones.

However, Google wasn’t entirely done with the 3.5mm port. When it began releasing its “A-series” Pixel phones, starting with the Pixel 3a, the headphone jack made a return. This continued with the Pixel 4a and Pixel 5a.

One could argue that including a wired headphone jack on a mid-tier phone makes some sense. However, unfortunately, Google’s marketing department couldn’t seem to keep quiet about it.

Last summer, Google decided to promote the headphone jack as a key feature of the Google Pixel 5a in a YouTube video praising the perfection of symmetry and technological marvellousness that is the headphone jack.

The video was also a blatant parody of the classic design clips that used to be created by Apple’s Chief Designer, Jony Ive — so much so that it’s probably fair to say that Google didn’t entirely intend for it to be taken seriously.

It’s filled with some of the most intentional over-the-top moments we’ve ever seen, but that’s what makes it memorable. It’s clever marketing through humor and parody, and unlike Samsung, Google isn’t mocking Apple in quite the same way. There’s no mention of any other products that lack headphone jacks, much less any specific jabs at Apple.

Sadly for Google, this one hasn’t aged well. Much like Google’s original Pixel to Pixel 2 transition, less than a year after touting how wonderful and unique the Pixel 5a headphone jack is, Google has now released the Pixel 6a — and, you guessed it: there’s no headphone jack.

The company unveiled its latest mid-tier phone at Google I/O on Wednesday. It’s an impressive successor to the Pixel 5a and a worthy little sibling to the flagship Pixel 6 series, but there’s no longer an incentive for it to be considered by fans of wired headphones.

Again, the world has mostly moved on from wired headphones. Apple even stopped including Lightning EarPods with the iPhone starting in 2020, and Google hasn’t ever included earbuds with its Pixel smartphones. However, like Apple and Samsung, Google has also toyed with its own wireless Pixel Buds, and it’s probably no coincidence that it released its new Pixel Buds Pro alongside the headphone jack-less Pixel 6a this week.

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