Google takes potshots at Jony Ive in Pixel 5a ad about headphone jacks

Despite not including one in their own flagships for years.

Terrence O'Brien / Engadget

How do you market an affordable and capable, but somewhat boring phone? That’s the question Google had to ask itself before releasing the Pixel 5a in the US and Japan on Thursday. The answer the company settled on was to hire a soft-spoken actor to do their best Jony Ive impersonation and wax poetic about the humble headphone jack.

It’s a usual approach, but one that highlights a feature that’s missing in most modern phones, and in a way that’s funny and memorable. “The circle: perfect, simple. Some might say simply perfect,” the actor declares in the opening moments of the clip, reciting a script that perfectly apes the overwrought writing that Ive’s videos at Apple became known for in his later years at the company. When the ad shortly thereafter turns to materials, you know exactly where it's going.

“Forged and machined from the finest premium-grade copper and iron. Housed in a unibody of diecast aluminium,” the actor says of the component, a voice in the background softly whispering, “fancy pronunciation.” Make sure to stay for the end of the clip to hear a fun bonus on that front.

But my favorite part of the clip involves how the Pixel 5a’s headphone jack is “designed to welcome both three-pole TRS and TRRS connections.” Translation: you can plug a headset with an in-line microphone into the phone and it will work without issue. It all culminates with the actor stating, “Yes, it’s a headphone jack. With the Google Pixel 5a with 5G, the circle has finally come full circle.” While the ad is mostly in good fun, it's worth pointing out Google's high-end phones haven't had headphone jacks in years, nor will the Pixel 6 include one when it comes out later this year.