The Nokia N800 Internet Tablet has a fairly standard 3.5mm stereo headset jack. In this way, it seems simple enough to get your hands on a set of replacement earphones should the ones that came with the phone happen to go missing or break. However, there are some complications that are definitely worth considering.
Can Regular Headphones Work?
Many early smartphones used a number of different standards when it came to the use of cell phone headsets. Some could only operate through a mini-USB connection. Others had the smaller 2.5mm headset jack. However, the vast majority of contemporary devices are now compatible with the regular 3.5mm connection. Also known as the stereo mini jack, this is the familiar kind of plug that you'd find with most headphones, just like those that you'd use with your iPod or notebook computer.
The Nokia N800 does indeed have a 3.5mm headset jack. In this way, it seems like it would be straightforward enough to buy just about any set of earphones, headphones, or ear buds and connect them to the phone. To some extent, these kind of Nokia replacement earphones will work. However, they will only work for the purpose of audio output from the device. This means that the headphones can be used for listening to music on the N800 or listening to the audio portion of a video playing on the Internet Tablet device.
However, this kind of standard connection with a conventional set of headphones will not work for the purpose of audio input to the Nokia N800. This is because the single 3.5mm stereo mini jack is used both for listening to audio output, but also for input in the way of an in-line microphone. This is for hands-free calling, as would be the case if you chose to use the N800 for Skype or other VoIP-based Internet telephony services.
What's Special about Nokia N800 Replacement Earphones?
If you take a look at the plug portion on a regular set of wired headphones, you'll notice that there are two lines that run perpendicular to the direction of the plug itself. In addition to the end tip, these two lines create three connection points where the plug fits into the jack. However, if you were to look at the headset that came bundled along with your Nokia N800, you'll notice that the plug is a little different.
The physical dimensions of the plug are identical. It is just as wide and just as long as the plug that you'd find on a regular set of headphones. However, you'll notice that instead of having two lines running perpendicular to the direction of the plug, any Nokia N800 replacement earphones will have three lines running along the plug. This is because the fourth connection is there so that the headset can be used for both audio input and for audio output; in other words, it can be used as a set of headphones along with an in-line microphone, effectively working as a handsfree headset.
A good diagram of this distinction can be found in a forum thread on Maemo.org. Maemo is the name of the Nokia-sourced operating system that underpins the N800 and other Internet tablets in the series.
A Possibly Easier Solution
You may find that it can be a challenge determining whether or not a headset can be used with the N800 as an appropriate replacement headset, because you may not be able to look at the plug portion to make sure it is compatible. That's why one of the easier solutions might be to purchase just about any headset designed for use with a computer (PC headset) where there are separate 3.5mm plugs for the headphone and the microphone portions. From there, you can fairly easily acquire a "splitter cable" that can plug into the single 3.5mm jack on the N800 and accept the two input jacks from the PC headset.
The other solution? The Nokia N800 isn't exactly the newest device on the block anymore, so it might be time to upgrade to something new.