clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

New Qualcomm chips tease CD-quality audio for your earbuds and faster 5G

New, 11 comments

Tech that improves audio quality over Bluetooth and an AI-enhanced 5G modem are on the way

Qualcomm’s new modem-RF system is the first of its kind to use AI to maximize 5G coverage and speed.
Image: Qualcomm

Qualcomm is using Mobile World Congress to show off some new technology that should improve 5G connectivity and wireless audio. These new capabilities — and the chips that make them possible — are likely to land in the next generation of earbuds and high-end Android phones starting in the second half of this year.

The Snapdragon X70 5G modem-RF system attempts to improve your phone’s 5G connection with the help of an AI processor. This helps it maximize 5G signal for better coverage — particularly important for mmWave signals, which are short-range compared to the broader coverage of low and mid-band frequencies. Qualcomm says this improvement is limited to situations like stadiums and city blocks, and that it doesn’t address one of mmWave’s key weaknesses: the signal’s inability to travel from outdoors to indoors. But where there’s no mmWave signal, the new AI processor should boost sub-6GHz coverage and speeds, too.

The new audio features, wrapped up in a platform called Snapdragon Sound, include a feature teased last year: wireless earbud support for 16-bit “CD-quality” lossless audio over Bluetooth. There’s also a gaming mode with 68ms latency — 25 percent lower than Qualcomm’s current technology. Another addition is the ability to record in stereo through a pair of earbuds. The company’s latest adaptive active noise cancellation technology is also included.