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Pixel 6a ditches headphone jack after Google mocked the iPhone for the same thing

Published May 12th, 2022 1:43PM EDT
Pixel 6a in green.
Image: Google

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Google unveiled the Pixel 6a on Wednesday, confirming every expectation that preceded Google I/O 2022. And every rumor. The leaks said the Pixel 6a would be a cheaper version of the Pixel 6, ready to offer the same performance thanks to the Google Tensor chip. Moreover, Pixel 6a leaks indicated the phone would not feature a headphone jack, which would be a first for the cheap Pixel A-series phones.

Google confirmed the bad news. Now, all the Pixel 6a needs is a new Google-made commercial that mocks phones without headphone jacks. Yeah, we haven’t forgotten.

Apple ditched the headphone jack in 2016 when it launched the iPhone 7 series. Apple needed to remove the jack to free up more space inside the phone which would eventually lead to an all-screen phone. That device arrived a year later, the iPhone X.

Like others, Google mocked Apple’s decision. But then, like others, Google removed the headphone jack from its own phones.

The Pixel 2 was the first to copy the iPhone, and Google never looked back — at least when it comes to Pixel flagships. That’s because the Pixel 3a resurrected the headphone jack. Google explained at the time that price concerns convinced it to bring the port back.

The infamous Google ad

The Pixel 3a was the first mid-range Pixel phone that Google made. The Pixel 4a, 5a, and 6a are part of the same series.

That brings us to the Pixel 5a commercial that Google released in late August 2021. It was less than a year ago, just a few months ahead of the Pixel 6 release. At the time, the Pixel 6’s design had already leaked, so we knew it was ditching the headphone jack.

Pixel 6a
Google Pixel 6a smartphone. Image source: Google

The Google ad praised the headphone jack and implicitly criticized all the phones that do not have a 3.5mm port. That’s not a problem in itself, but Google went for a parody approach. The commercial didn’t just promote the Pixel 5a’s support for regular headphones. It also criticized Apple’s iPhone, a phone that Google has been copying ever since the first Pixel generation came out.

Fast forward to the Pixel 6a, and the phone has no headphone jack. It hasn’t even been a year, so Google might’ve already known that the Pixel 5a wouldn’t have a headphone jack. Yet it chose to run that ridiculous ad anyway.

Ditching the headphone jack is not a bad design decision, considering that Google has largely recycled the Pixel 6 design. The Pixel 6a is slightly smaller but otherwise is an almost perfect copy of the Pixel 6.

Why doesn’t the Pixel 6a have a headphone jack?

Google must be eager to sell its brand new wireless earphones. Starting at $199, the Pixel Buds Pro match Apple’s AirPods Pro features. And they’re the kind of accessories you need for a phone that doesn’t have a headphone jack. Like the Pixel 6a.

Google’s Pixel 5a with 5G will be available on August 26th for $449. Image source: Google

The alternative, of course, is using wired USB-C headphones with the Pixel 6a. That’s always a choice for any Android phone that lacks a headphone jack. And you can also use Lightning wired headphones with your iPhone. You don’t need a 3.5mm port for wired audio if that’s what you want.

The point here is that Google released that incredibly annoying ad less than a year ago despite knowing the Pixel 6a would not feature a headphone jack. It’s the kind of deceitful ad that Samsung made before Google.

Samsung also mocked the iPhone’s headphone jack before killing the port on its own flagships. At least Google hasn’t “pulled a Samsung” and deleted the Pixel 5a ad from YouTube now that the Pixel 6a is official. Not that the internet would have forgotten about it, anyway.

It would be delightful to hear from Google’s marketing team that came up with that ad on why the Pixel 6a doesn’t feature a headphone jack. Because Google has yet to address this particular design change.

The new ad can even feature the same accent and find a way to sneak in the word “aluminum.” While we wait for the first Pixel 6a ads, here’s the Pixel 5a headphone jack commercial for you to enjoy:

More Pixel coverage: For more Pixel news, visit our Pixel 7 guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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