While phone makers like Apple and Google are trying to kill off the 3.5mm headphone jack, Microsoft has an idea on how to save it. In an August 2016 patent filing, recently spotted by MSPowerUser, Microsoft suggests putting spring-loaded contacts inside the headphone jack and covering it with expandable or flexible materials. This would allow just the part of the phone around the jack to become thicker when headphones are inside.
It’s a clever idea, but it does have a few problems: While Microsoft’s design would allow for thinner smartphones, it still amounts to an extra component inside the phone, and it still won’t reduce the depth that a 3.5mm plug requires. Manufacturing a new kind of headphone jack at scale would also add considerable costs. As phone makers become more confident in their ability to take away the headphone jack without an outcry, investing in a novel way to bring it back would require a whole lot of courage.