Update: As detailed below, it’s also possible to listen to two sources simultaneously with the Separate App Sound feature.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is about the first smartphone to feature Bluetooth 5, the latest standard of the wireless transmission technology. The Sony Xperia Z Premium will also have it, but it’s not due for a while yet.
So what, you say? Well, it’s pretty neat and has plenty of new features, such as being twice as fast as the previous version, four times the range range (1000 feet) and more, providing you have devices capable of making the most of it.
This has allowed Samsung to come up with something it calls Bluetooth Dual Audio, specified by Samsung on its website but hardly reported. And Bluetooth Dual Audio is even cooler.
If you have memories of sharing earbuds with someone special so you can both listen to the same track, those memories are probably warm and rosy, tempered only by the lack of stereo available to both parties.
So how much better would it be if you could both connect your own Bluetooth headphones to the same phone at the same time and stream the music to both?
A lot better is the answer and that’s what Bluetooth Dual Audio promises.
And not just for the listener. If you’ve ever been annoyed by a couple playing a “hilarious” video on their tablet’s speaker, right next to you on the train, you’ll recognise that if they’d both had their own headphones you wouldn’t have been disturbed. Well, apart from their simultaneous guffaws.
You can only stream the same content to both Bluetooth devices, but then if you were listening to Spotify while your friend played a podcast, you’d both be fighting over the handset, right?
There is an exception to this thanks to the Separate App Sound feature. It means you can simultaneously play sounds from two different apps, one on the S8 itself and the other via a Bluetooth device. This is handy if you want to listen to music on your Bluetooth speaker but Junior wants to watch, and listen to, Peppa Pig on the screen of the Galaxy S8.
And Samsung does point out that “the two connected devices may exhibit a slight difference in sound output” which could be a worry. Still, the site goes on to say that another feature of Bluetooth 5 is that it is a stable connection even when radio frequencies nearby have the potential to interfere, assuming you’re using the right equipment.
Of course, this method is slightly less physically intimate, but, hey, you can still snuggle in close if you want to.