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Qualcomm brings high-end features to affordable wireless earbuds

You won't have to pay a premium for perks like hands-free voice control.

Published onDecember 16, 2020

Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 true wireless earbuds charging case handheld
  • Qualcomm has unveiled QCC305x chipsets that bring premium features to lower-priced true wireless earbuds.
  • They’ll enable hands-free voice control and other perks that normally require expensive buds.
  • They should enable Bluetooth LE Audio for features like music sharing.

You might not have to splurge on a high-end set of true wireless earbuds to get all the latest conveniences. Qualcomm has introduced a QCC305x family of Bluetooth audio chips that aims to bring “premium” features to more affordable wireless earbuds.

The new quad-core hardware enables hands-free voice control, adaptive noise cancelling, and enhanced aptX support with 96kHz audio and aptX voice for calls. Qualcomm will also be one of the first to enable the Bluetooth LE Audio spec, switching on features like audio sharing — you could stream a song or video to a friend’s true wireless earbuds.

Read more: The best AirPods alternatives under $100

Qualcomm expects to see the first wireless earbuds based on QCC305x chips to arrive as soon as the first half of 2021, and no later than the middle of that year. The hardware is timed to launch closely with the Snapdragon 888, so you might get your wire-free audio upgrade alongside a new phone.

The company didn’t name products using the new technology, although its partners include well-known names like Anker, Bose, Jabra, and Sennheiser.

The new Qualcomm tech could go some distance toward making true wireless earbuds more accessible. While there are certainly plenty of more affordable options, they frequently involve compromises in areas like audio quality or support for voice assistants (you may have to hit a button to talk to AI). The more these perks creep into lower-cost buds, the more enticing it might be to ditch wired audio.

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