With rumor rife that the headphone jack is about to become defunct, Apple preparing to remove the headphone jack with the iPhone 7 and devices like the Moto Z already having ditched the port altogether, consumers are justifiably concerned about a standards war they did not ask to be part of.
At present, USB-C is only used in a select few phones and laptops but many manufacturers, including chip major Intel, believes the versatile new USB-C standard will not only make for a viable headphone jack replacement, but a superior one as well.
Experts say improvements to the USB-C standard, slated to arrive later this year, could make it a far better port for the modern-day smartphone. The most obvious advantage, at least to devices manufacturers, is slimmer phones. Without the need to route analog circuitry of a headphone jack, phone makers could switch to digital audio and cut precious millimeters from the device's body. With digital audio, software and device makers could make cheaper ear buds that take advantage of features currently reserved for more expensive headphones, like noise cancelling and bass boosting.
However, USB controllers are inherently more power-hungry than a 3.5mm port, and if there is anything that will push consumers to resist change, it is detrimental effects to battery life. The new specifications for USB-C allow it to detect when users are not using the microphone on headphones and turn it off to save battery, leading to negligible difference in battery life.
While not a viable HDMI replacement, USB-C is also capable of high-throughput data transfers. That means you could hook a smartphone or computer up to a display through USB-C to run apps or watch movies. Plus, USB-C can handle multiple connections at once, so you would be able to use a USB hub to transmit video or mirror a display from a single port while at the same time charging the device and connecting a separate cable for peripherals.
It is not just video or audio improvements — USB-C opens up the possibility for all sorts of health tracking and other fitness-related functions that can be controlled from a single port.