By Chris Welch, a reviewer specializing in personal audio and home theater. Since 2011, he has published nearly 6,000 articles, from breaking news and reviews to useful how-tos.
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Today marks another chapter in the slow demise of the headphone jack. Microsoft has quietly removed the 3.5mm connector from its brand-new Surface Pro 9. The change is confirmed on the tech specs page, which no longer lists a headphone jack among the device’s “connections.” But it’s very much present on the same page for the Surface Pro 8.
This seems to be the direct result of Microsoft bringing the Intel and Arm versions of the Surface Pro 9 together in the same chassis. The Surface Pro X has never had a 3.5mm jack, so now, the Intel hardware is coming in line with that design direction.
But I’d argue it’s a more controversial omission this time. Why? The new universal outer enclosure is essentially the same size as that of the Surface Pro 8.
Surface Pro 9 and Surface Pro 8
Surface Pro X
The Surface Pro X hardware was quite a bit thinner than Microsoft’s Intel hardware at the time (and still now). So excising the 3.5mm jack made sense. But we’ve now lost the headphone jack for a chassis that’s basically identical in dimensions to last year’s model. They really couldn’t fit one on there somewhere?
Microsoft has kept the headphone jack around on the Intel-only Surface Laptop 5. So laptops (at least from Microsoft) are safe. And if you’re shelling out over $4,000 for the new Surface Studio 2 Plus, that also retains the 3.5mm connector.
But we seem to have reached the point where tech giants are fully comfortable going without one on tablets — or 2-in-1s, in the case of Microsoft. I’m still a big fan of that new forest green Surface Pro 9, but this trend is a bummer.
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