Wireless Earbud Prices Set to Plummet

Wireless Earbud Prices Set to Plummet
Qualcomm's new audio chip will enable smartphone makers to bundle wireless earbuds with their devices.

(CCM) — The cost of wireless earbuds similar to Apple's Airpods is about to drop dramatically, thanks to a new custom chip introduced by Qualcomm.

The Qualcomm QCC3026 Bluetooth Audio System-on-Chip (SoC), announced today, has been designed specifically for phone manufacturers who want to include low-cost wireless earbuds with their smartphone offerings.

The new chip offers the same TrueWireless Stereo technology and aptX codec support as the pricier Qualcomm QCC5100 chip which the company announced at the beginning of the year. It also supports simplified Bluetooth pairing with a smartphone, but consumes up to 50% less power, meaning that wireless earbuds based on the chip should be able to last a whole day on a single charge.

But the QCC3026 is only equipped with a single digital signal processor (DSP), which means it may struggle to offer features such as Assistant hot-word detection (such as when a user says "Hey Google" to activate a phone's intelligent assistant). It also lacks support for active noise cancellation (ANC).

So far Chinese smartphone maker Oppo is the first company to announce that it will use the chip in wireless earbuds which will be included with its new flagship Find X device. Other manufacturers are expected to follow suit, and the availability of the chip may prompt some of these to abandon the 3.5mm audio jack in their handsets as well.

Image: © Qualcomm.