As smartphone manufacturers increasingly retire the headphone jack, consumers are left with two options to listen to music: make the switch to wireless headphones or use a dongle for plugging in wired ones. This seems simple enough but actually isn't.
First of all, while wired headphones can be quite cumbersome at times, they actually have an advantage over Bluetooth headphones because they don't need to be charged, hence they never lose battery. Plug them in and they will work. Not only that, but Bluetooth headphones can sometimes cut off audio when there's a lot of signal noise.
Qualcomm thinks it can solve those problems with a new chip.
Qualcomm Unveils Its QCC5100 Chip For Wireless Headphones
QCC5100 is an extremely tiny system-on-a-chip that's designed for wireless headphones, much like Apple's W1 Bluetooth chip inside the AirPods. The company says the chip is not just for regular headphones only, but also "hearables" — headphones with smart features.
Qualcomm's chip packs in more processing power for smart features and sensor support, but more importantly, it saves up to 65 percent in power consumption, meaning headphones powered by this chip will last much, much longer than typical Bluetooth headphones — about 25 percent longer, according to Qualcomm.
Less Signal Interference, Better Power Consumption
It's got efficient noise-canceling hardware built-in and has a better blend of power usage for voice calls or playing music. Qualcomm says it's also got better transmit power to reduce audio cutoffs in environments where there's significant signal noise. The chip supports Bluetooth 5.0, which was only introduced in 2016 and just began to appear in devices the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the iPhone X last year.
"This breakthrough single-chip solution is designed to dramatically reduce power consumption and offers enhanced processing capabilities to help our customers build new life-enhancing, feature-rich devices," said Anthony Murray, senior VP and general manager of Qualcomm's voice and music unit.
Currently, there are no headphone manufacturers who have announced that they're going to be using Qualcomm's new chip, but Qualcomm says it's working with a handful of companies to make sure that happens soon. If Qualcomm's plans pan out, QCC5100-powered wireless headphones should start appearing around of the middle of 2018.
The removal of headphone jacks in modern smartphones has most often been welcomed with ridicule, but if Qualcomm delivers on its promises, it will certainly smoothen out the transition to a wireless era for headphones.
Thoughts about the potential of Qualcomm's new chip for Bluetooth headphones? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section below!