With NFC, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, Why Do We Still Need Wires?

Some holes, like this one in Yellowstone National Park, are beautiful. But take a look at your phone or tablet. How many holes does it have in it? None of them are “pretty”. Let’s face it,  they’re eyesores.

Holes seem like they are necessary components, but they do make your phone look ugly. Additionally, they’re extra components which just add on to the cost of an already pricey piece of electronics.

Let’s count them, shall we?

Chances are you’ve got a headphone jack, a microUSB port, and maybe even an MHL/HDMI port. Why? Why do we have so many holes in our devices? Aren’t there other options?

IFA is coming up soon, and Pocketnow’s very own Anton Nagy will be in Berlin to cover all the shiny goodies that will undoubtedly be there. It’s pretty likely that those devices, too, will be riddled with holes! Do we really need them?

HDMI, anyone?

Inside the HDMI cable

Look at all those wires! Let’s get rid of this hole!

Some devices include an itty bitty HDMI port in them (Motorola, anyone?). Why? Samsung devices can connect to TVs over the MHL port that’s built into the microUSB port, so why include an extra hole?

Apple has already shown us that screen mirroring works great without wires. We can already stream audio and video wirelessly via DLNA, let’s use that, shall we? Why are we still poking holes in our phones and tablets to do what we can do without wires.

Ax the HDMI port.

Drop the headphone jack


Do these headphones make my music look big?

I don’t need a wired set of headphones to listen to my music, or even to make phone calls. Bluetooth is a perfectly acceptable substitute these days. Sure, plugging in headphones is easier, there’s less setup, and you never have to worry their batteries running out (because wired headphones get their power from the device).

There is one valid use for wired headphones: the wire itself can serve as an FM antenna for devices that include the needed hardware and software to let you listen to broadcast radio on your mobile device. However, with so many streaming radio options, I have to wonder: does anyone really use their FM radio app? If you do, please let us know in the comments!

Who needs USB?

Sometimes we need to transfer “stuff” to or from our phones and tablets. I get that. But Bluetooth file transfer has been around for years and years. Alas, it’s slow. Not to worry, Wi-Fi Direct is here, and it lets you transfer all your digital media at blistering speeds — comparatively speaking, of course. Why do we need a USB cable for file transfers any more? Answer: we don’t.

What about flashing ROMs, you say? Samsung has been able to use Kies over Wi-Fi for some time now. Sure, ROM flashing wirelessly may seem dangerous, and it probably is more risky that doing so across a cable, but I haven’t heard any wide-spread bricking coming from the Kies community, so it’s got to be pretty stable.

USB Thumb Drive

Okay, sure, it is a USB thumb drive… but that’s not exactly what we meant.

How about USB host support? You know, for those who want to plug in external storage, or keyboards, or mice? True, you’ll give up that ability, but you could accomplish the same thing with magnetic POGO pins, or Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi Direct… so, how about we lose the USB port, too.

What about power? POGO pins would take care of this nicely. The Nexus 7, Galaxy Nexus, and even the Nexus One have them. They work great! We could easily do all our charging without having to “plug in” a microUSB cable.

It’s settled: ditch the microUSB port.

Where does that leave us?

Without a headset jack, microUSB port, or HDMI port we’re left with a phone devoid of holes! POGO pins and various wireless technologies can make up for the rest and are already  proven to work. The wireless options even have standards organizations backing them!

OEMs, with IFA around the corner, now is your chance to go bold! Give us tablets and smartphones without any ugly holes in them! You’ll save money in both component and production costs. You won’t have to include a set of headphones or a USB cable with your devices. You’ll even have more room on your boards — or be able to make smaller boards! All these combined, will save you money!

Let’s see which of you can be the first OEM to give us a device without holes!

Images: Morning Glory by Redeo; USB Thumb Drive by Brando

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy". By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video. Read more about Joe Levi here.