When the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL officially launched, they had a clear advantage over the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL: a 3.5 mm headphone jack.
That's good news for a lot of people, even though Google's reason for retaining it in its new midrange smartphones spells bad news for those anticipating the standard feature in the Pixel 4.
Pixel 3a's Headphone Jack Is For 'Flexibility'
In an interview at the 2019 I/O developer conference, Google product manager Soniya Jobanputra explained why the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL has a headphone jack and why flagships such as their pricier predecessors don't.
"[W]e really felt that consumers at this price point, in this price tier, really needed flexibility. And that's what that headphone jack gives you," she said.
Apparently, including it in the new handsets was a heavily debated topic at Google.
Now the Pixel 3a starts at $399, while the Pixel 3a XL at $479. They aren't high-end devices, but rather, they sit somewhere in the middle of the range. They're also considered to be budget Pixels by many. Based on that, it seems that the company thinks only buyers of affordable phones need a headphone jack. In other words, customers looking to purchase a handset at this price range may not have the spare cash to spend on some wireless earphones.
Sure, it makes sense that consumers who have the means to buy a $1,000 phone will probably have enough to get a pair of wireless earbuds for it. However, just because they can doesn't mean they don't want more options or, in Google parlance, "flexibility."
Pixel 4 Probably Won't Have A Headphone Jack
Going by what Jobanputra said, the next-generation Pixel, presumably the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, likely won't include a headphone jack. That's because they're set to be the upcoming flagships of the company rather than smartphones at the same price tier as the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL.
Still, it's hard to say how things will turn out.
The interview with Jobanputra at the I/O event is posted below, and the interesting part is around the 2:20 mark.