Google Quietly Revs Its USB-C Headphone Adapter

Posted on September 11, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Mobile, Android with 15 Comments

Google has quietly issued a new version of its USB-C headphone adapter that improves latency and music playback time, especially on Pixel handsets.

Why even mention this?

Well, I’ve had about a year of nothing but problems with the USB-C port on my Pixel 2 XL(s). The problems are so bad, I’ve had to exchange my handset twice. And now I’m wondering if the problem I had the first time around—where audio worked sporadically and then simply stopped working entirely—might have been helped by an improved headphone adapter.

Maybe not. But I’ve ordered one regardless to see whether I can hear any difference.

Anyway, according to the product listing, this new version of the Google USB-C Digital to 3.5 mm headphone adapter provides “38 percent more playback time and has a 53 percent improvement on plug-in latency than [the] previously available Pixel 2 headphone adapter.” It “works best on Pixel and other devices running Android P or higher,” Google adds.

At $12, it’s also $3 more expensive than the magical version it replaces.

Thanks to Android Police for the tip-off.


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Comments (15)

15 responses to “Google Quietly Revs Its USB-C Headphone Adapter”

  1. Jaxidian

    Any idea how to tell the difference between the old version and new version? I ask because 2 are going to be delivered on Thursday and I have no clue if I'm getting v1 or v2.

  2. Chris_Kez

    Can someone please explain what "38% more playback time" means?

    • Trickyd

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      Probaby means these adapters use a lot more power and resources than a plain old headphone jack and this one uses a bit less. There is probably a DAC of some type in the adapter which may be less efficient than the ones in the phone itself.

      • Chris_Kez

        In reply to Trickyd:

        Thanks, that makes perfect sense. I'm a dope and forgot that this would be an active peripheral because of the DAC. But now it makes me wonder how much it decreases playback time relative to a traditional headphone jack (or relative to using the speaker).

      • wright_is

        In reply to Trickyd:

        Most probably, but the question still remains, why did the original cause such problems and battery drain and latency?

        The adapter on my Hauwei has been flawless, I haven't noticed any latency and an hour's walk with the dog, listening to audio books, was less than 2% battery life...

    • lvthunder

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      Maybe it means you can listen longer before the dongle breaks? Who knows. It is a weird thing to point out like that.

  3. rosyna

    Based on that ad copy, I’m starting to wonder if the first version of the adapter was causing a hardware failure on the device it was connected to…

    (it would explain the multiple failed devices Paul experienced)

  4. X911ty12

    These adapter should always have a USB-C pass-through. The whole point of USB-C is that it can power a device plus add external devices. Just more evidence these are cash grab dongles.

  5. MikeGalos

    Wow. The new feature is "This time it actually works! (Sometimes, on some specific phones)"

    I guess the people who bought the old version are really to blame for not noticing that feature was missing on the Technical Specs page.

    Seriously, if I were a person who bought the old version I'd be expecting a free replacement with the new version and an apology.

  6. Cdorf

    You know what would be simpler Google.... a %*#%&) headphone jack

  7. skane2600

    I suspect that the internal DAC is more efficient, and of course, depending on how the phone is designed, both DACs might be active at the same time anyway. Not to mention that "latency" isn't really a factor when plugging into a headphone jack.

    As Scotty said: "The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain."

  8. Daekar

    The fact that these dongles decrease playback time by that much blows my mind. Who the @$&# thought getting rid of the headphone jack was a good idea!?

  9. robincapper

    Wouldn't be amazing if there was a headphone connection interface that had zero latency, superb sound quality and (probably) immeasurable battery life impact. Even better if it were already used on multiple devices across all geographic regions...

  10. IanYates82

    Actual numbers for the latency would be nice to know. if it's gone from 2ms to 1ms then it probably doesn't matter. It's also maybe not that important in the scheme of things since if everything you listen to was delayed by that 2ms, you wouldn't notice. I guess if it's gone from 20ms to 10ms, and you're using your headphones for a visual medium like Netflix (ie not just podcasts/music) then this is a big deal.

    It'd just be nice to get actual numbers to know if this matters...

    All the same, I've still got a phone with a headphone jack :P