Bluetooth on the smartphone changes everything: what’s new

A number of innovations regarding the Bluetooth standard were presented at CES in Las Vegas. Here's how it will change and how we'll take advantage of it

Rain of news from CES 2020 regarding Bluetooth connection: the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), on one hand, and Qualcomm on the other, have made important announcements for those who use this type of connection to listen to music from their smartphone and for those who use Bluetooth headsets to answer calls.

The most important news is the presentation of the new LE Audio codec by the SIG. it is a new code for music playback via Bluetooth LE (Low Energy), a "Low Complexity Codec" that increases the quality of music playback but lowers power consumption. And it's also a codec, Qualcomm's new aptX Voice Audio, which, on the other hand, is made to increase voice quality in phone calls or via VoIP and instant messaging services. These two innovations seem to go along with the trend now in vogue among smartphone manufacturers: the farewell to the dear, old 3.5 mm audio jack.

Bluetooth LE Audio: what it is and how it works

Bluetooth audio will soon be implemented through two operating modes. The Bluetooth "LE Audio" mode will take advantage of the Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) standard while the "Classic Audio" mode will operate with the regular Bluetooth radio (BR/EDR, more power, more range but higher power consumption). LE Audio introduces new features, such as the LC3 codec that promises 50% higher quality at low bitrates. Multi-stream audio will also be supported: different audio streams, independent but synchronized, will be transmitted between various devices such as a smartphone and one or more speakers or headphones. Bluetooth LE Audio will also be compatible with hearing aid devices and will add "Audio Broadcasting" functionality: we'll be able to broadcast our audio stream to an infinite number of devices in the vicinity (in practice, Bluetooth radio is born).

Qualcomm aptX Voice Audio: what it is and how it works

The novelty from Qualcomm at CES 2020 in Las Vegas for audio via Bluetooth is called aptX Voice Audio. It's a new codec that, as the name implies, is focused on voice audio. Basically the speech of phone calls. According to Qualcomm aptx Voice Audio will dramatically increase the quality of calls via Bluetooth devices. At the moment, most Bluetooth audio streaming devices are not able to reproduce a high-definition stream, while Qualcomm's new codec promises an optimization of frequencies around 32 kHz (the typical frequencies of human voice) via the normal Bluetooth Handsfree profile, the one used to connect headsets.