LATEST UPDATE: October 4, 2017 – the Pixel 2 phones are here, and they support Bluetooth 5, but not just that, they also support LDAC, apt-X and apt-X HD…
Bluetooth is a tug of war between convenience and compression. Some vow never to use it on the grounds of the additional compression step. Others will under certain circumstances. Certainly, after one ruins enough headphones and earphones during specific tasks and activities, one may be more inclined to give bluetooth a chance, at least during those activities.
Which brings us to Bluetooth 5, a point of hope and hype that you can listen over bluetooth without noticeably sacrificing audio quality. It is too early to tell as of June 2017, as we only have a couple of smartphones and no headphones supporting Bluetooth 5. But IFA is just around the corner, and so is CES 2018, so we should expect more action on this front in the next few months.
SMARTPHONES with BLUETOOTH 5
+ iPhone X (September 2017)
+ iPhone 8, 8 PLUS (September 2017)
+ the original Essential (June 2017)
+ Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL (October 2017)
+++ they support LDAC, apt-X and apt-X HD
+ conditional: HTC U11 (plans revealed in August 2017)
+++ BT 5 will arrive after the phone gets Android 8.0 update
+ conditional: Z2 FORCE (July 2017)
+++ per Motorola, this will get Bluetooth 5 once it receives the Android O update
+ OnePlus 5 (June 2017)
+ Galaxy S8, S8+ (March 2017)
NOTES and COMMENTARY
The smartphones are listed alphabetically by manufacturer above. Under each manufacturers section, they are in reverse chronological order (most recent phones shown first).
The dates in the parenthesis above are the dates the smartphone was officially announced. It is not the date it was released (these often vary around the world and by carrier or locked/unlocked status).
One thing that will help in the proliferation of Bluetooth 5 is that two of Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon 600-series chipsets, the 660 and 630, both support Bluetooth 5.
I should point out however that both smartphones and headphones may not necessarily implement all the Bluetooth 5 features. For some, simply having “BT 5.0” in the spec sheet may be considered enough to get the marketing boost from it. I suspect we will see this unfold in front of our eyes in a play by play fashion as each new BT 5 smartphone and headphone gets released 🙂