Apple has been working for the past few years on developing a custom low-power Bluetooth radio chip for wireless earbuds, according to a new report in Forbes. The report notes that Apple could launch a set of Bluetooth earbuds as soon as September alongside the new iPhone model, which is expected to omit the 3.5mm headphone jack found on prior models. Recent leaks have suggested that Apple will bundle either Lightning EarPods or a Lightning audio adapter in with the next-generation iPhone models. Low-power Bluetooth headphones could provide another alternative — although it seems likely that such earphones would be sold as a separate option rather than being included in the package.
Apple’s work on a low-power Bluetooth chip apparently came from technology originally developed by Passif Semiconductor, a startup Apple purchased in 2013, and would solve the problem with very limited battery life that has traditionally plagued Bluetooth headphones. According to a source familiar with the project at Apple, the company originally planned to launch Bluetooth earphones in 2015, but the release was held back due to performance issues. It’s unclear whether Apple’s wireless earbuds will arrive with a custom Bluetooth chip fabricated entirely by Apple or whether the company will instead use a third-party supplier such as Broadcom. Apple naturally declined to comment on the report.


Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.