The world’s top chip-maker Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. (Qualcomm) has unveiled plans to boost profits and bring 5G to the masses by developing chipsets compatible for mid-priced smartphones.
The new chipsets are expected to catalyze the adoption of 5G smartphones and increase accessibility to nearly 2.2 billion smartphone users worldwide.
The company announced that the new chipsets dubbed Snapdragon 6 & 7 Series are expected to hit the market next year at Germany’s IFA 2019 tech trade show last Friday.
“Qualcomm Technologies delivered the world’s first and most advanced 5G mobile platform including the first comprehensive Modem-RF System to accelerate 5G commercialization in 2019,” said Alex Katouzian, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Mobile at Qualcomm.
“And we are uniquely positioned to accelerate 5G commercialization to scale globally with our OEM and operator customers with expanded mobile platform offerings across our Snapdragon 8 Series, 7 Series and 6 Series in 2020.”
Until now, Qualcomm has focused on making a premium category chipset called Snapdragon 8 series on its X55 5G modem which is currently used in high priced phones like the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G model priced at $1300 and the Samsung Galaxy Fold which costs $2,000.
Now, the company is expanding its portfolio and developing 5G mobile phone chips for mid-priced phones for more than ten OEMs including Oppo, LG, Vivo, Motorola, and others which sell for $200 to $400.
LTE modems are a crucial component of smartphones. The wireless chips are responsible for connecting handsets to cellular networks that enable the push and pull of data which allows users to complete tasks such as check email messages, listen to music, post photos, and make phone calls.
The move to develop products for mid-priced smartphones will not only boost sales for the chip giant but also significantly increase the availability of 5G smartphones in the marketplace.
According to estimates by market research firm IHS Markit, global shipments of 5G smartphones are expected to nearly quadruple to 120 million units in 2020, up from 35 million in 2019.
Qualcomm also unveiled an antenna module for high-frequency, millimeter-wave (mmWave) spectrum bands, called QTM527 which can enable multi-gigabit transmission speeds over short distances – specifically for fixed broadband modems used inside of homes and businesses.
Modems developed using the QTM527 can transmit more power and have a range of up to 1.7 kilometers in rural and suburban areas, and of up to 1.1 kilometers in urban areas which is much farther than existing mmWave solutions that have a range of a few hundred meters.
“With this new extended-range solution, we deliver yet another major mmWave breakthrough and allow operators to provide enhanced fixed broadband services with broad coverage in urban, suburban and rural environments,” said Cristiano Amon, President of Qualcomm.
“OEMs will be able to quickly develop portable customer-premise equipment at scale, which operators can use to deliver fiber-like internet connectivity and performance for homes and businesses. This innovation is yet another example of 5G’s potential to transform industries beyond the smartphone, just like we’re seeing in transportation, AR and VR, industrial manufacturing and more,” Amon added.
Qualcomm, which has been a forerunner in the development of 5G modems with more than 150 designs in the works is facing increasing competition from the Chinese telecom giant Huawei, Korea’s Samsung and Taiwan’s MediaTek.
But Qualcomm’s chipsets have a considerable advantage over competitors, according to analysts. Unlike chips from Samsung, Mediatek and Huawei that can only operate in the sub-6 GHz bands mostly used in Europe and China, Qualcomm’s chips can cover the full range of frequency bands used by 5G, including sub-6 GHz bands and millimeter waves.
This means that Qualcomm’s 5G modem chipsets can connect to any cellular network in any part of the world where its customers sell devices – especially in the United States where the focus has been on millimeter wave bands.