After nearly going extinct, there has been a slow move back towards headphone jacks in smartphones, with the feature showing up more often on high-end handsets when space allows.
The Pixel 3a is anything but a high-end handset, however, and Google has not shipped a phone with a headphone jack for 2 generations.
In an interview, Soniya Jobanputra, Product Manager at Google, explained why Google decided to return this desirable feature in its latest handset.
We debated on this headphone jack but we really felt that consumers at this price point in this price tier really needed flexibility, and that’s what that headphone jack gives you. We still support digital audio, and it is the ultimate way to consume your audio. You can either use the USB-C adapter on the bottom, or you can use Bluetooth headphones. And digital audio is incredible. But, a lot of people have headphones, and we didn’t need to create anymore e-waste in the world so we’ve decided to put a 3.5mm headset jack in so that people could use the accessories that they already had available to them.
In line with this Google also does not ship with a pair of headphones in the box.
It is notable that flexibility and re-using your existing (possibly expensive) headphones would apply equally to buyers of high-end vs mid-range buyers, and we hope Google reconsiders their decision regarding the port on their higher end devices, particularly when their high-end Pixel handsets has been selling poorly of late.
See the interview below.