What is aptX Adaptive Bluetooth Audio Codec? The Ultimate Guide

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What is aptX Adaptive? It is an audio Bluetooth codec designed to deliver the same quality of audio that you have come to expect from wired headsets. As the name suggests, it is a next generation dynamically adjustable audio codec designed from ground up to deliver robust, low-latency, low-bit rate, high quality wireless audio. We are talking about CD quality audio here, but with a twist.

The aptX Adaptive codec is available for smartphones, Bluetooth earbuds, ear phones, and wireless speakers. When paired together, compatible devices and accessories deliver top quality audio. You can have a compatible set of earbuds, but your msartphone may not be supported. The best sound experience is delivered where both the smartphone and the Bluetooth audio accessory are compatible.

aptX Adaptive phones and Bluetooth headsets

What is aptX HD?

aptX HD is an audio codec that supports 24-bit audio file transmission via Bluetooth and reduces signal-to-noise ratio, resulting in lower distortion. In summary, it delivers higher audio quality over Bluetooth.

What is aptX Adaptive?

It is an adjustable codec that is much more efficient than aptX HD, but using a smaller amount of date to produce the CD quality sound quality over Bluetooth. It was designed with video and gaming in mind.

aptX Adaptive vs aptX HD

Note that aptX Adaptive is different from aptX HD and basic aptX. The new Adaptive codec is the latest evolution of aptX and aptX HD. The goal of the different versions of aptX have been to deliver better audio via Bluetooth. aptX HD delivers high definition, CD quality Bluetooth audio. It is aptX Adaptive that takes it to the next level – the big difference is that it automatically adjusts to provide optimum audio quality or latency depending on what content is being played on the supported smartphone. As such, it supports high quality audio at even very low bitrates. In summary, it automatically switches between aptX and aptX HD.

The beauty is that aptX Adaptive is backwards compatible with aptX HD and aptX. That means, for example, that wireless earbuds supporting Adaptive will connect to a phone supporting only aptX or HD and use those older codecs instead.

Note: As Andrew pointed out in the comments, the backwards compatibility is only on the transmitter side and not on the headset side. So, an aptX Adaptive mobile can support an aptX HD/LL headset. An aptX HD phone cannot send aptX HD to an aptX Adaptive [only] headset. If the headset does not also have aptX HD, the audio quality defaults to aptX Classic.

Does Android support aptX Adaptive?

Yes; Android OS supports the new Adaptive codec, and there are many compatible Android phones in the market already. Note that it isn’t built into Android, so each manufacturer has to decide whether to include it into each of their devices. Some phone brands with aptX Adaptive phones include: Nokia, Google Pixel, Motorola, Sony, Smartisan, Sharp, ZTE, OnePlus, ASUS, and Xiaomi.

Note that it supports other platforms, like Windows 10 and macOS as well.

Nokia 5.4 in hand at mobilityarena

List of aptX Adaptive Phones

Here is along but not exhaustive list of phones that have been announced and launched in recent times with Adaptive support. Note that new phones are being announced monthly, and so this list cannot capture all the available models that support it.

There are other smartphones not listed here that support the new aptX codec, so this is not an exhaustive list. You should also have a look at my more detailed list of 42 phones that support aptX Adaptive.

Does Apple use any aptX audio codecs in iPhones?

No; Apple does not use aptX in iPhones. Instead, it uses AAC.

Do Samsung phones support any aptX audio codecs?

Samsung Galaxy S22 range, including the S22 Ultra, support aptX classic, but not the newer, more advanced aptX HD or Adaptive. The Galaxy S23 models lack these advanced codecs as well.

Edifier TWS1 Pro Blietooth earbuds with aptX Adaptive support

List of aptX Adaptive Bluetooth Headsets

The following Bluetooth headsets all support Adaptive:

  • Edifier TWS1 Pro
  • Bowers & Wilkins PX7
  • Bowers & Wilkins Pi3
  • Bowers & Wilkins Pi4
  • Bowers & Wilkins PX5

aptX Adaptive phones and devices are great for listening to high quality audio, as well as watching movies and YouTube videos. I have played around with and reviewed some of the above devices and cannot recommend aptX Adaptive enough.

Read up some more about aptX HD.

Avatar of Mister Mobility

By Mister Mobility

I have been tech blogging since 2003, I have owned and reviewed hundreds of smartphones since my first in 2001.

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