Google Headphone Adapter Review

Posted on November 18, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Hardware, Mobile, Music + Videos, Paul with 89 Comments

Google Headphone Adapter Review

This is the review I was born to write. It is the most important article I’ve ever written.

On October 8th, I made a momentous purchase at Google’s online store.

No, I don’t mean the Pixel 2 XL.

And, no, I’m not referring to the Pixelbook.

Or the Pixel Buds, for that matter. I did actually order all of those things within a few days of each other. When did I turn into such a Goongle?

Stay on target, Paul.

No, I mean the Google Headphone Adapter. Or, as the Google Store website confusingly calls it, the USB-C Digital to 3.5 mm headphone adapter.

What an impersonal name for such a magical product.

Like the underrated Microsoft Surface Pen Loop before it, the Google Headphone Adapter—seriously, do we not have a better name for this thing?—arrives unpretentiously in a tiny package. It’s not as small and inherently stealable as the Surface Pen Loop, but then I bought it online anyway. Knowing Google’s eye for quality products that have never let anyone down, I suspect that this packaging excess is purposeful. That Google is signaling the worth of what it contains to the potential customer.

So I waited. Like the perfect sushi, it was almost too beautiful, too perfect, to disturb.

(OK, I was going to write this last night, but then my sister called and asked if I wanted to go out for dinner. Let’s not get distracted.)

Finally, this morning, I felt brave enough to finally break the seal of the elegant and clear wrapping that protected the adapter’s box. I did so carefully, so I could keep that packaging and display it, like a trophy, in my home.

And it is a wonder to behold.

I am referring, of course, to the box.

Here, Google embarrasses Apple on a scale that is almost breathtaking. This wondrous little box utilizes a slide drawer mechanism with a small plastic tab. You grasp the tab, pull gently, and it just opens up. This requires almost no effort.

I dare you not to gasp while this magic unfolds in front of your eyes. I, alas, was unable to contain myself. Yes, I squealed like a little girl. Like Brad might when he hears a UPS truck in his neighborhood.

Inside the box, there it is: The Google Headphone Adapter. It is whiter than a hundred Cupertinos and fashioned from a matte material that is hard to the touch. Its makeup is a mystery. It is perhaps alien technology.

I almost destroyed the packaging trying to get the dongle out of its perfectly-shaped cut-out. Almost destroyed it again as I frantically tried to find the instructions that would explain how I might use this device.

There are none.

Here, again, Google’s genius becomes suddenly obvious. Unlike Apple’s latest product, which is just its upteenth iteration of the smartphone and yet requires a lengthy how-to video to understand how it even works, the Google Headphone Adapter needs no such instructions.

It is, instead, truly intuitive.

Trembling, I moved the Google Headphone Adapter into place, aligning it with the USB-C port on the bottom of my Pixel 2 XL. It … wouldn’t attach.

Nervous, I bumped it again and again into the bottom of the device. Thoughts of yet another problem with this phone were impossible to ignore. And then, suddenly, and with great relief, I realized the truth. I had been trying to plug in the wrong end of the dongle. So much for the reversible nature of USB-C.

With a fix in place—I flipped it over—the Google Headphone Adapter attached easily and securely to my phone. So the next test was audio quality: Would the adapter deliver the audio quality of Apple’s mythical HomePod? Or would it be yet another Apple AirPod, pretty to look at but with terrible sound?

What I can I say? It’s perfect. Rick Springfield never sounded so good. No, not even in the 1980s.

At $9, the Google Headphone Adapter isn’t necessarily affordable, but I think its ability to magically pass sound from my phone to an external speaker or headphones justifies the price. Heck, the packaging alone justifies the price: You should buy this thing even if you’re using an iPhone: It will give you something to buy while you wait for that stupid HomePod you want so bad. I would spend my own money on this product, and you know how stingy I am.

Regardless, it doesn’t really matter how many of these adapters that Google sells: The Google Headphone Adapter is aspirational, a living how-to guide for its competitors to follow when it comes to creating their own product packaging.

The Google Headphone Adapter is highly recommended. I may even buy another one.

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