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Qualcomm’s next chip suggests 2020 will be the year of 5G phones

New Snapdragon chips suggests critical mass of next-gen phones will come next year
Image: IDGNS

26 February 2019

Qualcomm just provided another reason why you should wait until at least 2020 before investing in a 5G phone.
We already know the carriers largely won’t be able to deliver this
year. But Qualcomm’s first integrated 5G Snapdragon won’t be ready until
then, either.

Qualcomm currently ships both Snapdragon smartphone processors and
its separate X55 modem chip, with support for 5G technologies. The two
chips sit alongside one another, meaning that smartphone vendors have to
design larger, bulkier, more power-hungry phones to accommodate them

By the second quarter of 2019, Qualcomm said its first Snapdragon chip with an onboard 5G modem would ship, in time for commercial smartphones using it to ship about a year later, around the second quarter of 2020. “The new integrated Snapdragon 5G mobile platform features Qualcomm 5G PowerSave technology to enable smartphones with the battery life users expect today,” Qualcomm added.




What Qualcomm’s promising is that the integrated 5G Snapdragon will
offer the same battery life as current LTE phones. That’s important, as
phones with discrete modems would either have to include larger
batteries, or simply suffer shorter battery life than these new models.

Qualcomm isn’t exactly throwing the bleeding-edge solutions under the bus, instead positioning its upcoming chip as the next generation. “The integration of our breakthrough 5G multimode modem and application processing technologies into a single SoC [system on a chip] is a major step in making 5G more widely available across regions and tiers following the wave of flagship 5G devices from the more than 20 OEMs and 20 mobile operators who have committed to launching 5G networks and mobile handsets based on our 5G modems this year,” said Cristiano Amon, president of Qualcomm, in a statement.

What we don’t know is whether Qualcomm will be able to live up to its
promises. We don’t even know what the name of the new integrated
Snapdragon will be. We also don’t know for sure how the Snapdragon will
perform, or just how compatible it will be with the 5G networks of the

Qualcomm’s announcement, however, provides a clearer answer to the question, “When should you buy into the 5G hype?” This year looks like a transition between 4G and 5G, while the first 5G phones and networks find their footing. But 2020 is when we should expect 5G technology to start hitting its stride, until it becomes relatively mature in 2021 and beyond. 

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