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With Samsung dropping the headphone jack, LG is the last stop for audio fans

LG G8 ThinQ
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Nobody seems to like LG phones.

TechRadar, Tom’s Guide, PC Mag, and many others all topped out at 3.5-stars or below for LG’s latest flagship, the V50 ThinQ, and Digital Trends’ own Julian Chokkattu gave the phone a three-star rating. His biggest gripe? The features don’t match the price.

The phone debuted at over $1,000 after all, in no small part because it’s a 5G phone (which most of us can’t take advantage of), and he lists a number of stumbles, from a camera that gets outclassed by Google’s cheaper Pixel 3a to software bloat and a sub-par battery.

But when it comes to phones for people who truly care about good sound (and hate dongles), LG is increasingly the last best choice. In fact, as Samsung announced it’s finally following Google, Apple, and just about everyone else in dropping the headphone jack for its Note 10 and Note 10 Plus — with the Galaxy S-series soon to follow, no doubt — LG has become the last man standing for flagship phones.

And as far as I’m concerned, you can pull my LG phone from my cold dead hands.

Who cares about the headphone jack?

It’s an increasingly valid question.

iphone to android lg v30
Image used with permission by copyright holder

With each new wireless headphone release or Bluetooth resolution bump, the answer seems to be just about nobody. It’s floating right around the same number of people who care about Apple pulling virtually all its legacy ports — from HDMI outputs to good ole USB drives — from its entire laptop line.

People who care about sound like me obviously hold fierce to the headphone jack and its convenient access to all manner of awesome, high-fidelity wired headphones. Broadly, though, virtually no one seems to give a damn about sound quality, let alone the disappearance of aging plugs and ports. Until they need them, that is.

Ever see someone scramble in panic when they realize they’ve run out of juice on their fancy wireless headphones and their little dongle is sitting on their computer desk at home? To LG users like me, it’s hilarious. I know you shouldn’t take pleasure in another’s pain. I never said I was perfect.

LG G8 ThinQ
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

It’s the same with USB ports in laptops. Sure, you don’t need to plug into your TV or use flash drives very often, but when you do and that port isn’t there, you feel dumb. Your computer seems dumb. And limited. And anything but innovative. It’s the kind of feeling you should never have after spending a ton of money on the latest piece of tech.

Feature thieves

Moreover, I firmly believe we shouldn’t be forced to carry (and often pay for) add-on devices to use still-viable technology on our latest gear. New tech is supposed to free us from our former frustrations, not create new ones in their place. Even from a pure logistics standpoint, why exactly is it so hard to keep a tiny port in a big ass phone?

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus
There’s no headphone jack on Samsung’s new Note 10 or Note 10 Plus. Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The answer is, it’s not. Phones are already thin enough, and there’s still plenty of real estate to keep the old stuff while loading up the new. A phone without a small, 3.5mm hole (and a bit of circuitry) is as absurd as a laptop with two twin ports.

When it comes down to it, the only good reason to pull legacy ports you still might need is to sell you something you don’t, whether that’s an $8 dongle, a $50 hub, or a $200 pair of fully wireless earbuds. Don’t get me wrong, fully wireless earbuds are cool, but so are any number of wired earbuds that cost a lot less, sound a lot better, and are much better for the environment, too. Further, just because I buy a pair of awesome wireless headphones, does that mean I never want to plug in my forever cans again?

LG seems to be the only company in the phone game who still understands this basic creed: Give your customers more with each new iteration, not less.

More to the point for the audiophile crowd, LG phones not only still rock the jack, but they also go much further with high-quality digital-to-analog converters and amplifiers that pull the absolute most out of every track you play and every pair of cans you plug in.

lg v30
Julian Chokkattu

An LG flagship phone is basically the equivalent of a high-resolution music player, alongside all the other features you’d expect, like a solid camera, a quick processor, and a high-resolution screen. In fact, my V30 is still trucking along with a battery and camera that easily outdo my wife’s iPhone 8, which doesn’t even have a dual camera for wide shots. It’s also got a sexy design and it’s water-resistant — which is a total game-changer when compared to my last iPhone.

Apart from its lack of a few features like Face ID (which does offer some added security), my V30 still feels like a new phone to me. And while I still wouldn’t shell out the current $1,000 retail price for the new V50, I’d have no problem buying last year’s model.

Sometimes more is more, especially when it comes to technology we use every day. Sure, the latest features are fun, but they shouldn’t replace legacy features we still need, even if it’s only on occasion.

For my part, I’ll be sticking with LG as long as LG is sticking with me.

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Ryan Waniata
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Ryan Waniata is a multi-year veteran of the digital media industry, a lover of all things tech, audio, and TV, and a…
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