Qualcomm is looking to roll out its 5G modems to the billions of people unable to afford handsets with the wireless technology inside. The company said it has added an advanced 5G modem for the first time to its line of chips designed for cheap smartphones, in a bid to persuade more people to upgrade to 5G phones at a time when demand has declined globally.
Qualcomm has long been the world’s top vendor of chips used in 3G and 4G smartphones. The company has also leaped to the lead in selling modem chips for the first generation of flagship 5G smartphones rolled out by Samsung, Vivo, Oppo, and LG. But these premium models are priced at more than $1,000 to account for the cost of integrating discrete 5G modems.
The company has been trying to move its 5G modems into budget smartphones by rolling out chips with the 5G modem embedded inside, including the new Snapdragon 690 chip. Qualcomm said the new chip would be used in 5G phones that are priced at only $300 to $500, addressing the high prices that have been keeping consumers from upgrading to 5G devices.
New phones based on the Snapdragon 690 chip should be on the market by the second half of 2020.
Christiano Amon, Qualcomm's president, said that adding 5G modems to chips targeted at budget phones has the potential "to make 5G accessible to more than 2 billion smartphone users around the world." More than 375 designs are in development or on the market using Qualcomm's 5G modems to date. There are more than 1,800 products in the pipeline based on its Snapdragon 6-series chips, the San Diego, California-based company said.