Qualcomm is the dominant name when it comes to chipsets powering Android smartphones, but when it comes to accessories like wireless earbuds, we don't often hear about the chips inside them. That doesn't mean Qualcomm doesn't exist in that space, though, and today, the company announced a few new chipsets aimed at truly wireless earbuds, the premium QCC514x series and the cheaper QCC304x family. The chips promise to bring premium features to more price points.
The first, and perhaps most notable, of these, is active noise cancellation or ANC, which helps reduce or even mute outside sounds while you're using earbuds or headphones. A few headsets already support this, but more often than not, these are very expensive devices, like Apple's AirPods Pro, and that's because companies have to build their own solutions. These new chips have integrated support for that feature, as well as "leak-through" sound, which lets you hear some sounds around you when you need to. That should make these features easier to find on cheaper earbuds.
Another big improvement in the two chips is what Qualcomm calls TrueWireless Mirroring. With truly wireless earbuds, only one of the earbuds is connected to the phone at any given time, with the other earbud connecting to the first. This can make it hard for the Bluetooth connection to be reliable, though, if the phone is further away from the primary earbud than the secondary. With this feature, while only one earbud is connected to the phone, that connection is mirrored to the other earbud and the phone (or another audio source) can seamlessly switch between either of the earbuds to get the most stable connection. This also makes it easier to only use one earbud if you need to for some reason, since the connection will always be mirrored on both.
Lastly, support for cross-platform voice assistants is built into both of the chips, so users can use any voice assistant they want without those solutions having to be custom-built. One the higher-end chip, the QCC5141, voice assistants also support voice activation, a feature that's been almost exclusive to Apple's H1-powered devices, like the second-generation AirPods or the AirPods Pro.