Qualcomm has announced a new low-cost and low-power audio chip for headphones.
The new system-on-a-chip, QCC3026, is a Bluetooth audio system and younger sibling to Qualcomm’s QCC5100 SoC that came out earlier this year. It reduces power consumption by up to 50 percent.
Additionally, the 3026 chip is a great option for phone makers. Much to the chagrin of customers, many phone manufacturers have taken away the headphone jack. Worse, those manufacturers stopped including earbuds — wired or otherwise — in the box.
Qualcomm hopes its new SoC will entice phone makers to include wireless earbuds in the box. The company positioned the 3026 as a value option that doesn’t sacrifice quality.
One phone maker is already on board. Chinese electronics corporation Oppo announced its O-Free truly wireless headphones. Qualcomm’s new chip powers the headphones. Additionally, the O-Free headphones are cheap, coming in at about $106 USD (about $139 CAD).
Customers who purchase the Oppo Find X Lamborghini edition will also get a pair of the headphones free.
If the O-Free price point is indicative of other headphones powered by the 3026, the future may hold a number of low-cost AirPod competitors. The remaining question is whether these headphones can deliver on sound quality.
Oppo’s headphones offer up to four hours listening time on one charge with an additional 12 hours from the charging case. The AirPods, however, offer five hours listening time and 24 additional hours via the charging case.
The 3026 chip also supports Qualcomm’s enhanced TrueWireless Stereo features. This includes a new method of communication between the headphones. Most truly wireless headsets use one ‘primary’ bud to link to the phone and relay the information to the ‘secondary’ bud.
TrueWireless technology allows the headphones to switch roles automatically, allowing for better battery life.
Additionally, there is a TrueWireless Stereo Plus mode that allows for phones to connect directly to both earbuds. This would replace the current ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ earbud chain.
Overall this is a smart move by Qualcomm. Hopefully manufacturers will take note and follow Oppo. Having free, quality wireless headphones included with devices would go a long way to ending gripes with the lack of a headphone jack.