Why Moving to USB Type-C for Audio is Bad for Gamers
Intel has recently proposed the 3.5mm audio jack be swapped for USB Type-C. This is following rumors that Apple is also doing away with the standard method of getting audio into your ears by moving over to Lightning only. With upsides like better audio quality, or the ability to have more tech built into the headphones -- like temperature sensors, more accurate heartbeat monitors, or even noise cancellation which doesn't distort the audio as much -- what does this move mean for gamers?
Removing the 3.5mm jack removes flexibility
You know that feeling when you are playing a game on the bus/train and you see the battery indicator flash red? Luckily, you have a battery on hand to plug into your phone to give you some extra juice, but you can't plug it in because you are currently using your headphones to listen to that sweet music. You know that feeling? Oh wait...you don't. That's because your audio device is plugged into the simple and reliable 3.5mm jack.
Now, imagine having to pick between either having some sick tunes pumping through your soul to make your trip home better, or sitting there with the sounds of screeching brakes and people chatting about things you don't care about. All this just so that you can make the trip back home less stressful. That doesn't sound too great, does it?
One of the factors Intel has put forward for the USB Type-C audio use is that as phones get thinner, it's becoming harder to support multiple connections in devices. To which I question, shall we stop making things as thin as possible? Or just move onto using thinner connections and give adapters free with new phones? Maybe, if this does happen, everything needs to come with a passthrough connector? (Basically, an extra female connection.)
And cost is an issue
For around 50 years have we used the 3.5mm jack. In that time we have seen it go from a simple mono output, to now where it can be used to transfer non-audio data -- like in IR controls. 3.5mm jacks support audio input and output at the same time, as well as surround sound capabilities. They have come a long way in that time, but are also some of the cheapest specialized cables you can buy -- though of course just buying some electrical cable is cheaper.
USB Type-C is far too new for the transition to be cost effective for the consumer. Even with some of the amazing features which can be utilized with this, the consumer will lose out.
Do you want to be spending even more money on cheap, can be handled without care, earbuds just to have slightly better audio? Or just to have your earphones be able to tell your phone what your temperature is?
I find the inconvenience of not having the power/data connection free while listening to your game sounds, and the higher cost of peripherals, outweighs any benefits USB Type-C brings -- no matter how good the audio is.