OnePlus CEO and co-founder, Pete Lau, sat down with CNET to discuss why the company decided to remove the headphone jack in favor of an in-display fingerprint reader on the next OnePlus model — the 6T.
Although we already had official confirmation of this feature swap last month, there had been no official word from the company as to why this decision had been made. Speaking through an interpreter, Lau said: “My feelings are, to best summarize, complex,” said Lau through an interpreter. “It’s a mix of both excitement and anxiety.”
Despite the fact that the OnePlus 6T isn’t yet available, much like any device released in 2018, we know a great deal of what to expect coming before the official unveiling. The OnePlus 6T is set to be a major change over the OnePlus 6, which has been one of the most popular smartphones of the first half of the year.
The loss of the headphone jack is one that often tears the entire technology community in two, with fans lauding and decrying its inclusion/removal in equal measure.
“This has been one of the most difficult decisions for us to make,” Lau told CNET reporters. “The most difficult task in the day-to-day is… finding a balance in what’s ultimately going to be part of the end product and what has to be said ‘No’ to.”
It’s a pretty bold step to remove a port that when even OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei famously asked OnePlus fans ‘Do you like headphone jacks?’ twice within the past 12 months — with a massive ‘Yes’ response.
Do you like headphone jacks? (2017 edition)
— Carl Pei (@getpeid) October 5, 2017
Do you like headphone jacks? 🤔 (2018 edition)
— Carl Pei (@getpeid) March 14, 2018
But Lau thinks the replacement that removing the headphone jack apparently allows will be more than worth it. “After you experience the Screen Unlock you’ll fall in love with it,” he said. “[You’ll] realize that it’s the experience that you wanted.”
No sign of wireless charging or an IP rating
Lau also confirmed that the OnePlus 6T won’t include any sort of water resistance rating or wireless charging. With rival companies managing to pack in both bits of tech, it still seems an odd omission, but most will agree that Dash Charging is a more than fair compromise. That doesn’t mean they aren’t hoping to add wireless charging in future models.
“We’re working hard on this,” said Lau. “When we get to the day that the wireless charging can get up to speed without the implication of heat that we expect, then I believe we can integrate the technology.”
As for water resistance, Lau opted a head-on approach. “The number of users that are taking their phone to go swimming are few and far between,” said Lau. He added that to force everyone else pay, say, $30 more, “for the sake of an IP rating” for a minor subset of users was “unreasonable.”
It’s a bold move to flip-reverse the script on this one from OnePlus — who were one of the few manufacturers I thought might hold on to the headphone jack to appease their massive fanbase. The release of their own Bullets Wireless Bluetooth buds earlier this year might have been a sign that the company was going to ditch the jack a little bit sooner and ease fans into a cable-free audio experience.
I personally like having the headphone jack and will be sad to see it go from the OnePlus 6T — but its removal likely won’t stop it from being a wildly successful and popular device. Beating Samsung to the punch with a well-functioning in-display fingerprint reader could be a way to entice a new group of fanatics. Hopefully we’ll get a glimpse of it in action very soon to whet our appetites for this new tech.
The addition of wireless charging capabilities in future would be a welcome one, but at the moment the Dash Charging feature is a more than fair compromise — especially when you can gain 30-40% battery life in less than 25 minutes of charging. Whether or not you value water resistance is another matter entirely and if it keeps the entry price lower, then so be it.