true wireless earbuds

  • Qualcomm’s new QCC3026 chip is designed for low-cost true wireless earbuds.
  • Smartphone manufacturers might start including low-cost Bluetooth headphones in the box.
  • The Oppo Find X will be the first phone to ship with headphones powered by Qualcomm’s latest audio chip.


The market for Bluetooth headphones is in full swing, and true wireless earbuds are seeing a surprising boom in popularity as the market gradually shifts away from wired models. Picking out the best pair can be tricky but you might not have to venture too far to get your hands on true wireless Bluetooth earbuds in the future, as smartphone manufacturers might end up including them in the box.

That’s right, say goodbye to those usually rubbish 3.5mm earbuds and USB Type-C dongles tucked away at the bottom of your phone box and say hello to some “free” wireless earbuds. This trend is due to emerge following the announcement of Qualcomm’s latest Bluetooth audio SoC — the QCC3026.

The Qualcomm QCC3026 is designed as a low-cost alternative to the QCC5100 series chips announced at the beginning of the year, targeted specifically at phone manufacturers looking to include low-cost wireless headphones in-box. There’s the same TrueWireless Stereo technology and aptX codec support onboard, along with ultra-low power consumption, simplified pairing, and power balancing technology.

Qualcomm's QCC3026 is targeting a low price point but still offers aptX, True Wireless, and long battery life.

The QCC3026 doesn’t offer all the 5100’s bells and whistles though. It’s only got one DSP, so there’s less processing power available for fancy features like Assistant hot-word detection, custom 3D sound and EQ profiles, and sensor tracking. There’s no support for active noise cancellation (ANC) either, although mics used for calls will still benefit from noise cancellation. Instead, this chip is focused on providing the essentials needed for cost-effective true wireless headphones.

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In case you’re not familiar, true wireless earbuds are separate left and right earbuds without a wired connection. When connecting up to a Snapdragon equipped smartphone, left and right audio channels are sent to each earbud independently, cutting down on the processing and power consumption. Non-Snapdragon devices can still pair to these earbuds, but the audio stream is looped from one master earbud to the other.

We won’t have to wait long to see smartphone manufacturers start bundling these Bluetooth earbuds in with their phones. Oppo is Qualcomm’s first confirmed partner. It will use the chip for some of the headphones that ship with the company’s new Find X flagship. We can probably expect more manufacturers to follow suit once reference designs hit the market later in 2018, especially if they’re intent on ditching the 3.5mm jack.