Qualcomm Is Bringing 5G to the Masses

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All the latest cell phone technologies first make their first appearance in high-end smartphones. Most companies would want to reserve the very best and the very latest for their flagship devices so that they can coax users to cough up extraordinary sums of money to buy them. Take for example the 5G technology. When Samsung launched its first mainstream 5G enabled smartphone in the US, the Galaxy S10 5G in 2019, it cost an eye-watering 1299 USD.

But as the technology becomes cheaper, and competition increases in the 5G enabled chipset markets, phone manufacturers want to offer more and more features on their mid range and budget smartphones. The buyers in these segments also expect the addition of future proof features in mid-tier phones. Some of the primary benefactors of this high-speed revolution are going to be streaming sites like Netflix, online betting sites like JungleRaja, and gaming sites which can now run at better frame rates.

As incomes of individuals have decreased due to economic slowdowns, it is not possible for users to change their smartphones every year or two. A survey in 2016 showed smartphone users changed their phones every 21 months on average, and by 2019, the average turnover time had increased to almost 25 months. Another reason why people are changing their phones less often is because each year, there are only minor and incremental updates on the phones, which hardly warrant an upgrade.

With the entry of Chinese smartphone makers like OPPO, Vivo, OnePlus, and Xiaomi in the smartphone markets, the competition has become stiffer than ever. They offer a variety of models that target largely the mid-tier and budget smartphone market, providing a slew of high-end specifications like LED screens with high resolutions and high refresh rates, fast charging, larger batteries, etc.

In order to keep the costs down, they are largely dependent on using mid-range chips from Qualcomm like the 600 series and 700 series chipsets. While in 2019, 5G was available only on the 800 series chips like snapdragon 855, Qualcomm has now given 5G capability to its snapdragon 765 and snapdragon 690. This has enabled companies like One Plus, Vivo, and OPPO to launch 5G enabled smartphones at a much lower price point compared to flagship devices. The cheapest 5G phone in India currently retails at 24,999 rupees or around 350 USD.

And now Qualcomm has taken a step further and announced that by 2021, it will be providing 5G on its basic 400 series chipsets. This will enable smartphone companies to provide 5G capability to their most budget devices costing less than 200 USD.

Although the company hasn’t yet announced whether the chips will support mmWave technology or sub 6 GHz waves, smartphone manufacturers like Motorola, Xiaomi, and OPPO have already committed to designing 5G capable smartphones making use of the new chipsets.

Introducing 5G in budget devices will put high-speed mobile connectivity in the hands of a much larger audience, opening up endless possibilities in the hands of software developers and streaming companies.


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