It has begun. The race to remove the 3.5mm audio jack and laugh at it like some antiquated technology your grandpa used to love has started. And I'm not sure that I or any of us really are ready for this new era of audio connectivity.
LeEco, a company we've previously covered under the Letv name, has launched three new devices in China with an impressive spec sheet, a killer price tag, and no 3.5mm audio jack. Yes, that's apparently a feature and not a problem. As far as I understand it, the reason why everyone was excited about removing the jack was that it would make it possible to build thinner smartphones and remove one bulky component that usually restrains designers and forces them to compromise or scratch their heads for months to find a spot for it.
The issue, as I see it, is that the new LeEco phones don't necessarily benefit from the lack of a jack in either of these areas. The phones are still at least 7.5mm thick and we've seen thinner phones with a jack, and they still have some rather big upper and lower bezels. So unless I'm missing something, I don't see why this decision to remove the jack had to be made.
But I digress. If you're wondering how you'd be able to listen to all of your awesome tunes, LeEco is pumping the audio through the USB Type-C port on the bottom of the phone using a new technology called Continual Digital Lossless Audio, or CDLA for short. LeEco will also include a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter so you can plug in your regular headphones and it'll also sell its own CDLA earphones and headphones with a USB-C plug at the end of the cable. I imagine that there'll be money to be made in this accessory segment.
Back to the phones, the spec sheets are mindboggling for the price and they all run Android 6.0 Marshmallow with LeEco's interface on top. The high-end model is the Le Max 2 and it packs a Snapdragon 820, 4 or 6GB of RAM with 32 or 64GB of storage respectively, a 5.7" 1440p screen, a 21MP rear camera with an 8MP front shooter, a 3100mAh battery, and all the usual connectivity options. The 4GB/32GB version costs ¥2099 (approx $325), and if that isn't bonkers enough, the 6GB/64GB version will cost ¥2499 ($385). That's about the price of the Nexus 5X at launch.
The other two phones are less decked with features. The Le 2 Pro has a MediaTek Helio X25 processor with 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 5.5" 1080p screen, 21MP/8MP cameras, a 3000mAh battery, and costs ¥1499 ($230). The regular Le 2 gets a slower Helio X20 processor, 3GB of RAM, and only a 16MP camera, but it costs ¥1099 ($170).
The phones are only launching in China for now, but LeEco seems to have plans to expand to the US and India later. If I were you, I'd keep it on my radar because these are interesting offerings to say the least. Well, headphone jack aside.
Image Credit: AnandTech