Sony launched its 2nd generation WF-1000XM3 ANC wireless earbuds last year to much fanfare and found it to be a significant improvement over its predecessor, despite the lack of support for Qualcomm’s aptX HD codec. That last point may change in the near future, however, especially if a recent rumour is to be believed.
As per a posting on Walkman Blog, the site initially discovered Qualcomm had listed down the WF-1000XM3 on its list of products that support its aptX HD. Despite the product bearing no support for the audio codec since its launch.
Before it could garner more information, however, Qualcomm had already taken down the relevant page, leaving several questions in its wake. The first is why Sony would opt for Qualcomm’s aptX HD audio codec when it already has its own LDAC codec. While the second question is how aptX HD could even be added to the WF-1000XM3 since the ANC earbuds don’t use a Qualcomm Bluetooth chip.
The answer to the first question is longevity. In an interview with Sony, the Japanese brand claims that adding LDAC would’ve significantly reduced the listening time on the WF-1000XM3, which was a major issue with the first generation WF-1000X. It’s also why the brand developed the QNe1 processor chip. In comparison, it would seem that Qualcomm’s aptX HD audio codec would be more efficient in power consumption than LDAC.
That brings us back to the second question: how Sony would even enable aptX and aptX HD on the WF-1000XM3. One possible answer is that technically, both aptX and LDAC are software-based codecs and require no special hardware. However, Qualcomm supposedly requires customers to use its chips if they want access to the codec license.
That last bit is very interesting because if that were the case, Sony would technically just have to pay Qualcomm a licensing fee for the rights for the codec and be done with it. This is the most likely explanation, but one that is clearly mired in speculation.
In any case, and given Qualcomm swift removal of the listing, nothing is set in stone just yet. For now, we’ll have to wait just to wait on Sony and see aptX really does pop up in the coming firmware updates for the WF-1000XM3.