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HTC U11's future update will reportedly enable Bluetooth 5 without hardware changes
From its mirror finish and solid build quality to its great audio and software experience, there is plenty to like about the HTC U11. An upcoming software update unofficially announced through an FCC filing, however, revealed the phone will have another feather in its cap: Bluetooth 5.
As our own Gary Sims eloquently puts it, today’s Bluetooth comes in two flavors: “Classic” and “Low Energy.” The former enables things like keyboards, mice, headsets, and speakers to communicate to other devices, while the latter, referred to as BLE, uses relatively less power and is designed for wearables and beacons.
Where Bluetooth 5, unveiled by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (Bluetooth SIG) around this time in 2016, mostly comes in is in the boost to BLE’s range and data speeds. Thankfully, those performance increases do not lead to increased power consumption – Bluetooth 5 uses, at most, 2.5 times less power than its predecessor.
Since the new Bluetooth 5 chip set became available early in 2017, however, we have yet to see a slew of devices that support the new standard. The standard also has yet to significantly trickle down to the likes of headphones and wearables, so even though phones like the Samsung Galaxy S8 support Bluetooth 5, it is not much use if other devices do not.
The U11 will encounter that same conundrum once its software update lands, with the update not requiring any hardware change on HTC’s part. That probably means the hardware was already built-in, but a software update was needed to kick it into gear.
Bluetooth 5 does somewhat future-proof the U11, particularly for those who will hold onto it for more than a year, since future accessories will support the new standard. Keep in mind that the FCC filing does not say when the software update will land, but it should be sooner rather than later.