Qualcomm has announced a pair of new Bluetooth audio systems-on-a-chip (SoCs), the premium tier Qualcomm QCC514X and the entry-level Qualcomm QCC304X. The new SoCs will power the next generation of truly wireless earbuds.
Both chipsets support Qualcomm's TrueWireless Mirroring technology that promises more reliable connections and better battery life. With this technology, the connection between the phone and the earbuds is handled through a single bud. The other bud mirrors the connected bud, thus making for a faster and more reliable connection.
If you remove the primary earbud from your ear, the connection is seamlessly transitioned over to the mirroring bud. This ensures that streaming music or an active voice call remains uninterrupted.
Qualcomm's TrueWireless Mirroring technology also makes it possible to show a pair of headphones as a single device to a phone, instead of two separate connections.
New Qualcomm audio chips feature hybrid ANC
Qualcomm's new audio chips also come with integrated dedicated hardware for hybrid active noise cancellation (Hybrid ANC). This allows for active noise cancellation in cheaper earbuds as well, while also enabling "super-low latency leak-through of the outside environment" so that the wearer remains aware of the surroundings.
Qualcomm says its new chipsets are more power-efficient and that Hybrid ANC has minimal impact on battery life. The company claims up to 13 hours of playtime on a 65mAh battery.
Both Qualcomm QCC514X and Qualcomm QCC304X audio chips offer support for voice assistants. However, there's one big difference here. The premium tier Qualcomm QCC514X offers always-listening capability while the entry-level Qualcomm QCC304X doesn't.
This essentially means earbuds equipping Qualcomm's premium tier SoC will offer wake-word activation for voice assistants. You can summon your digital assistant with wake words such as "Hey Google" or "Alexa."
Earbuds equipping the entry-level Qualcomm chipset, meanwhile, will only offer push-button voice activation. Users will have to physically activate the listening mode before they can make voice commands.
Nevertheless, by making features like active noise cancellation and voice assistant support standard for even entry-level earbuds, Qualcomm is further pushing the ever-growing adoption of wireless earbuds. Not just premium earbuds, but the next generation of low-cost wireless earbuds will also be offering a robust set of features.
Phone makers are already getting rid of the headphone jack on their flagship offerings. Now we could well see a similar trend with mid-range and budget phones as well.
"We have added voice assistant support at all tiers as well as integrated digital Hybrid ANC without compromising power consumption which further allows these new SoCs to deliver amazing experiences," said James Chapman, vice president at Qualcomm.