Uh oh, now laptops are beginning to drop the 3.5 mm audio jack
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We recently reviewed the ultralight Asus ZenBook 14 UX425 equipped with the latest Intel Tiger Lake CPU and noticed that the system did not come with a 3.5 mm audio jack. Nonetheless, a USB-C to audio jack adapter would be included with every retail box and so we didn't think much of it at the time. Fast-forward a couple of weeks later and we would discover this same approach on the ZenBook S UX393 to suggest that this trend isn't going to end anytime soon.
We don't know why Asus is starting to drop the 3.5 mm audio jack from some of its latest flagship Ultrabooks, but we can speculate that it's to make room for other ports or features including full-size HDMI, USB-A, and multiple Thunderbolt ports all of which are present on the two aforementioned ZenBooks. Like Apple, Asus is likely pushing Bluetooth connectivity and wireless headsets as the go-to method for future audio needs.
Users who still rely on 3.5 mm audio jacks, however, will now have to start looking more closely at their next laptop purchases as it's no longer a guarantee that they come with 3.5 mm audio ports. We wouldn't be surprised if other major OEMs like Lenovo, Dell, or HP are already considering a similar approach on a selection of their flagship models. These manufacturers would probably throw in USB-C to 3.5 mm audio adapters free-of-charge at first to make the transition easier for users, but later models would likely drop the adapter in a move that would mimic Apple and its iPhone series.
Will users be more accepting of losing the 3.5 mm audio port on their laptops than on their smartphones? It's hard to say, but we'll find out soon if the next generation of Ultrabooks continues down this path.