Google Headphone Adapter Review

Posted on November 18, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Hardware, Mobile, Music + Videos, Paul with 84 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.

Tagged with

Elevate the Conversation!

Join Thurrott Premium to enjoy our Premium comments.

Premium member comments on news posts will feature an elevated status that increases their visibility. This tab would allow you to participate in Premium comments with other premium members. Register to join the other Premium members in elevating the conversation!

Register or Subscribe

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate