Qualcomm's new QCC5100 chip designed for low-power Bluetooth applications is promising to enable the next generation of wireless headphones and earphones that are said to be up to three times more efficient than even the best devices currently offered on the market. Qualcomm Voice & Music SVP Anthony Murray claims the SoC is "a big step forward" for the product segment and can directly reduce battery consumption compared to its predecessor by approximately 65 percent. While speaking to Gizmodo on the sidelines of Consumer Electronics Show 2018 in Las Vegas, Mr. Murray suggested the QCC5100 will allow for an upgrade on the existing audio technologies in nearly all aspects and not just energy efficiency.
The Bluetooth 5.0-enabled chip is said to be twice as powerful as its predecessor found in various high-end headphones released over the course of 2017. Its new hardware also allows for more consistent transmissions which should prove to be particularly useful in scenarios that are usually less than ideal for reliable wireless streaming due to various interference factors. Ultimately, Qualcomm is convinced that the QCC5100 will improve upon the two crucial aspects of Bluetooth audio solutions – consistency and battery life. It's currently unclear how much will original equipment manufacturers have to pay for the chip but assuming it maintains the premium price tag attached to the previous platform, it's unlikely to make its way to 2018 devices priced at less than $250.
The general increase in the raw processing power of the chip should also enable more versatile use cases in the context of automation, providing manufacturers with an energy-efficient solution to e.g. automatically lower the output volume if their earphones detect car horns or an airport announcement. The QCC5100 is expected to be commercialized in the first half of this year, possibly even by early spring, as suggested by the adoption history of Qualcomm's previous wireless audio chips. The San Diego, California-based tech giant is expected to have a significant presence in a broad range of consumer electronics industries over the course of 2018, having recently announced the Snapdragon 845 SoC which should power the majority of ultra-premium Android devices released in the next 12 months.