Essential Phone will get a headphone jack thanks to a 'high end' audio accessory


Love it or leave it, the trend of removing the headphone jack is here to stay, and the new Essential Phone is no exception. 

That’s not to say there’s no way you’ll ever get a 3.5mm port on your Essential PH-1. In fact, the company is actively developing an accessory that will instantly bring a headphone jack to your device.

During a Reddit AMA today with Essential founder Andy Rubin – who also co-founded Android – and several Essential team members, it was revealed a “high end audio accessory to support a 3.5mm jack” is in the works.

“High end” signals the accessory will be expensive, and it may not be worth the average buyer purchasing considering the Essential Phone includes a USB-C to 3.5mm converter in the box. However, it could be perfect for those seeking a premium audio experience, or those tired of the converter.

We also got an explanation as to why the headphone jack was left off the Essential Phone in the first place. Apple may have started the trend with the iPhone 7, but Essential has its own calls from customers to answer.

“Headphone jacks are pretty big components and they don’t play nice with all-screen Phone architectures. We studied it very seriously, but fitting a headphone jack into our Phone required tradeoffs we were uncomfortable with,” wrote Dave Evans, Essential’s VP of Design.

He continued: “We’d have [to] grow a huge ‘chin’ in the display and reduce the battery capacity by 10%, or we’d need a huge headphone bump! We decided it was more important to have a beautiful full-screen display in a thin device with solid battery life. Then we made sure we to build y’all a high-quality DAC in a tiny adapter that can elegantly live on your headphones.”

But that’s not all

A new audio accessory isn’t all Essential has cooking. In fact, the startup has a number of so-called Click Connector accessories in development. 

The first to reach market will be the phone’s charging dock, with Essential planning to have it out “shortly”. The headphone jack accessory sounds to be next, while cameras are another area of focus. 

The Essential Phone supports clip-on accessories, making it a modular device in that you can add and remove extra components at will, as long as they attach to the handset’s magnetic ports. 

Essential Phone with the clip-on 360 camera accessory

Currently, the only available Essential Phone accessory is a 360-degree camera that costs $179 (no prices for the UK or Australia are available).

Essential appears particularly excited about the audio accessory; one team member chimed in that the company’s head of architecture is currently in Asia working on the gadget, again iterating it’s a “high-end” add-on. Prototypes are in active testing, another one said.

Just when we’ll see it is a mystery, however. The Essential Phone has gone on sale in Sprint stores in the US today, and it won’t venture elsewhere until later this year. It might be a little while yet before Essential delivers a headphone jack to its phone.

In addition to the pending headphone jack, the Essential team also revealed a few other goodies. 

For starters, the still-unreleased white version is currently in build trials, and Essential anticipates it will be a few weeks before the cream-colored handset starts shipping.

Android Oreo is “2 months-ish” out from arriving on the device, and as for the phone’s maligned camera, Rubin said the problems are software-related, and fixable.

“We are pretty happy with the hardware design of the camera,” Rubin wrote. “We are using computational photography to fuse a monochrome and color sensors. That’s the part we’re not too happy about, but luckily it’s software and we’ve already done a number of updates to the app to fix bug and add features.”


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