Qualcomm Integrates 5G Modem In Chips For Cheap Smartphones

5G Modem Chip Market

5G Modem Chip Market

Qualcomm intends to bring its 5G modems to billions of people who cannot afford cellphones with built-in wireless technology. The company said it has added an advanced 5G modem to its chip lineup for cheap smartphones for the first time, to convince more people to switch to 5G phones at a time when demand has been falling around the world.

Qualcomm has long been the world’s leading supplier of chips for 3G and 4G smartphones. The company has also topped the sale of modem chips for the first generation of 5G flagship smartphones being launched by Samsung, Vivo, Oppo and LG. But these premium models cost more than $1,000 to account for the cost of integrating discrete 5G modems.

The company has tried to integrate its 5G modems into budget smartphones by launching chips with the 5G modem embedded in them, including the new Snapdragon 690 chip. Qualcomm said the new chip will be used in 5G phones that cost as little as $300 to $500 to address the high prices that have kept consumers from switching to 5G devices.

The chip is based on its X51 modem, which supports data rates of up to 2.5 Gbit/s and upload speeds of 660 Mbit/s. The chip can connect to 5G networks in any part of the world where its customers sell phones. Qualcomm said it can handle transmissions based on TDD – used to route data over the same frequency with slightly different time slots – or FDD standards – used to route data over slightly different frequencies simultaneously.

However, there are tradeoffs. The Snapdragon 690 chip connects to 5G networks based on the sub-6 frequency bands. The chip is unable to interface with millimeter waves, which support faster data transfers but are difficult to reach over long distances. These signals can also be deflected by physical obstacles, unless advanced cellular antennas are crammed into the sides of the phone. The problem is that those parts are expensive, analysts say.

The San Diego, California-based company wants to lure customers selling mid-range and budget smartphones to start selling larger quantities of its 5G modem chips.

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