Qualcomm rolled out its Snapdragon 765 chip, the first in its family of chips for the higher end of the market for midrange smartphones with an integrated 5G modem, last year. The chip features data transfer rates of up to 3.7 Gbps and uploads of up to 1.6 Gbps, and it can also handle all the bands used by the 5G networks, including the millimeter waves favored in the US and the sub-6 frequencies used in China, South Korea, and Europe.
That contrasts with the Snapdragon 865 chip, which is paired with a separate 5G modem in the first flagship 5G smartphones from LG Electronics, Samsung, and other manufacturers. The use of a separate modem inflated the cost, power, and footprint of these devices. The X55 5G modem delivers download speeds of up to 7.5 Gbps with uploads of up to 3 Gbps. Qualcomm has also rolled out a more advanced modem, the X60, to its lead customers.
Qualcomm is looking to introduce chips with integrated 5G modems for use in flagship and other high-end handsets, such as Google's Pixel and Samsung's Galaxy, by the end of 2020.
Samsung said it has started selling the cheapest 5G smartphone in the US, the Galaxy A70, which is based on the Snapdragon 765 chip and costs $600. The model is more than half the price of the flagship Galaxy S 5G smartphone, which uses the Snapdragon 865 chip. It is around $150 less than the cheapest iPhone model introduced in 2019, which lacks 5G. Apple is reportedly planning to sell 5G phones with Qualcomm's X55 modem in 2020.
Qualcomm said it has improved the internal architecture of the Snapdragon 690, which integrates large, high-performance cores and small, energy-efficient cores to boost battery life. The Kryo 560 CPU incorporates a pair of Cortex-A77 cores clocked at up to 2.3 GHz. The remaining Cortex-A55 cores in the eight-core CPU have clock speeds of 1.7 GHz. The chip pumps out up to 20% more performance than its predecessor, the Snapdragon 675.