Speaking to a source familiar with the company’s plans, Android Police has learned that Samsung will likely begin its wind-down of the headphone jack – and even physical keys for functions like volume and power – with the Galaxy Note 10. The Note 10 will have no 3.5mm connector, and exterior buttons (power, volume, Bixby) will be replaced by capacitive or pressure-sensitive areas, likely highlighted by some kind of raised ‘bump’ and/or texture along the edge (i.e., a faux button). We don’t know if it’s Samsung’s intent to carry over both of these changes to the Galaxy S11 in 2020.
The Note line has always been fertile ground for Samsung’s more forward-looking changes to its smartphones’ industrial design and general philosophy, as it’s a phone that’s long been adored by some of Samsung’s most ardent fans – the sort of people who tend to be early adopters of new technology.
Removing the headphone jack would almost certainly result in excoriation from some of those fans, who have long held that Samsung’s steadfast adherence to the 3.5mm jack is one of their big reasons for sticking with the brand. But in 2019, Samsung virtually stands alone in the high-end phone space in this regard. Google, OnePlus, Huawei, and Apple have all abandoned the headphone jack on their premium devices. Even many budget phonemakers have started to purge it: Xiaomi’s Mi 9, Honor’s 20 Pro, and Oppo’s Reno all lack the familiar connector. It really does appear to be fully on the way out, and I imagine it’s just a matter of time before this trickles down even to budget phones.
Samsung is likely to argue that removing the jack creates precious volume for more battery capacity, though there are also benefits in terms of reducing design complexity and increasing ingress resistance from dust and liquids (Samsung’s latest offering, the Galaxy S10, still gets an IP68 rating even with a headphone jack). The same argument likely applies to the buttons, which are another potential failure point that could theoretically be eliminated. One of the lesser-known upsides to removing those keys is removing their cutouts, which tend to be the weakest points in the unibody aluminum frames most premium phones are constructed from. This could possibly allow Samsung to create a thinner, lighter phone design without compromising on structural rigidity.
Our source confirms existing rumors about multiple models of the phone, with two sizes anticipated to be available – one larger, one smaller (though “small” is only by Note standards).
If history is any indicator, we can expect Samsung to announce this phone mid-summer, likely in August.
We’ve received new information from a reliable source indicating Samsung has, in fact, halted plans to debut pressure-sensitive “faux” buttons on the Galaxy Note10. The phone will have traditional physical power and volume keys (but no Bixby key). While we’re not sure why the company changed course—and we can confirm that was the case, Samsung did seriously plan to get rid of them—it seems for whatever reason that Samsung decided the world wasn’t ready for its take on HTC’s phony buttons.