Bluetooth is getting a huge upgrade for gamers — ultra-low 20ms latency

Bluetooth logo on phone
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Qualcomm wants to give gamers a nearly latency-free experience with its upcoming S3 Gen 2 Sound platform that runs on Bluetooth 5.4. The platform, which was just announced today (June 23), promises sub-20ms latency that's far below the 100ms latency of Bluetooth 5.3. 

The S3 Gen 2 Sound platform builds on Qualcomm’s work with aptX Low Lantecy, a codec that delivers audio with just a 40ms delay. The S3 Gen 2 platform will cut that time in half. Why do you want faster delivery over Bluetooth? Well, for gamers, it’s all about hearing your teammates in real-time, which is incredibly important for games like Call of Duty Mobile.

There are, of course, some caveats to this. 

First off, you’ll need a Qualcomm chip-equipped smartphone or tablet that has Bluetooth 5.4. Typically you can find Snapdragon chips in Asus, Honor, Motorola, OnePlus, Oppo, Sony, Xiaomi and ZTE phones, as well as the flagship Samsung Galaxy phones like the Samsung Galaxy S23 and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. As for Bluetooth 5.4, it almost doesn’t exist out in the wild yet because it only became available back in March to manufacturers. 

Higher-end audio streaming is coming, too 

Qualcomm Snapdragon

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

It’s just a footnote of today’s announcement, but Snapdragon says that the S3 Gen 2 Sound platform will support 24-bit 96kHz high-resolution Bluetooth streaming with its aptX Adaptive codec. 

On the surface, that’s almost comparable to CD quality — but remember that aptX Adaptive still compresses audio to around 352kbps so that it can fit through the Bluetooth pipeline. It’s a huge gain over the standard Bluetooth audio codec, SBC, but it’s not true Hi-Res Audio

The last bit of the announcement is the inclusion of new Bluetooth LE features like Auracast broadcast capabilities for dongles and adapters that allow for location-based listening. That’s going to be great if you want to listen to a football game’s play-by-play commentary while you’re at the stadium or need help hearing the stage when you’re at an outdoor concert. 

As for when we’ll start seeing devices equipped with the S3 Gen 2 Sound platform, Qualcomm hasn’t announced anything yet, but we’ll hopefully start to see some at CES 2024 in January and shortly after at MWC 2024 in February of next year.

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Nick Pino
Managing Editor, TV and AV

Nick Pino heads up the TV and AV verticals at Tom's Guide and covers everything from OLED TVs to the latest wireless headphones. He was formerly the Senior Editor, TV and AV at TechRadar (Tom's Guide's sister site) and has previously written for GamesRadar, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade. Not sure which TV you should buy? Drop him an email or tweet him on Twitter and he can help you out.