According to rumors floating around on social media and elsewhere, next year’s Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone could support the latest Bluetooth 5 wireless technology that has double the speed, four times the range and eight times the data broadcasting capacity of the current Bluetooth standard, Bluetooth 4.x.
Can we validate this in any way considering the fact that Samsung isn’t going to announce any such capability ahead of the actual launch? Possibly.
One good indication that Bluetooth 5 could, in fact, make its appearance in the Samsung Galaxy S8 is that Samsung Electronics America, the North American unit of Samsung Electronics Ltd., is an adopter member of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. The parent company itself is an associate member.
That’s one clue that we can’t easily dismiss. Members of Bluetooth SIG are proponents and promoters of Bluetooth technology, which means they’re the ones setting the pace for late adopters of the tech.
The second clue is that a particular line of products don’t need any additional qualification for Bluetooth 5 certification. Here’s an excerpt from the Bluetooth Core
Specification 5.0 FAQ document:
“My product is already qualified to an earlier Bluetooth version. Do I need to
do anything for the Bluetooth 5.0 release?
No, products are qualified in perpetuity without requalification.”
Naturally, Samsung shouldn’t have any problems getting the Galaxy S8 qualified for Bluetooth, since they’re one of the adopter members. In fact, they may not even have to re-qualify, depending on whether or not they have a blanket agreement covering all existing and future Galaxy devices.
The third clue is a bit derived, but relevant nonetheless. The bluetooth audio market is growing fast, as you can see from this graph below:
Wireless speakers are growing at a rapid clip of 72% every year. Why is that relevant? It’s relevant because Samsung now owns Harman International Industries, one of the market leaders in Bluetooth audio components.
Therefore, if Harman/Kardon wants to stay ahead of the pack, they must necessarily adopt Bluetooth 5 as quickly as possible. Given the quadruple range of Bluetooth 5 over the current version, they’re not going let their focus stray on bringing it to market as soon as they possibly can.
And Samsung, being their new owners, will surely want to leverage that tech for their smartphones as well. Bringing Harman/Kardon audio into the Galaxy S8 might be a bit of a challenge, engineering wise, but upgrading a smartphone’s hardware to support Bluetooth 5 may not be.
And that’s our case for the Galaxy S8 coming with Bluetooth 5 support. But the real question is, what can possibly be the use of that if there isn’t a full ecosystem of Bluetooth 5 devices in place for the Galaxy S8 to pair with?
As such, we believe Samsung will have to simultaneously implement Bluetooth 5 into other products as well, beginning with accessories for the Galaxy S8. Otherwise, it makes no sense to support a technology that isn’t widely being adopted yet. They could start with the Gear S3 smart watch, for example, and perhaps even a line of Harman/Kardon bluetooth speakers.
That’s the way we see things moving forward with Bluetooth 5 adoption in general. Until there is a robust body of devices that can use the technology, supporting it isn’t going to be meaningful.
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