As 5G-enabled phones secured their spot as major players in smartphone technology in 2020, access to this latest functionality has been limited to higher-end phones. But things are about to change, as Qualcomm announced today the development of the Snapdragon 480 5G Mobile Platform, which is expected to usher in a new wave of low-cost smartphones featuring cutting-edge features of the latest wireless standard.
5G technology promises higher peak data speeds, very low latency and greater reliability. With the current crop of 5G-enabled phones hovering above $500, the extension of 5G to Qualcomm’s 4-series SoC could pave the way for smartphones priced in the $125-to-$250 range.
The Snapdragon 480 chipset incorporates an X51 modem that supports mmWave and below-6-GHz bandwidths, which ensures compatibility with nearly all 5G networks available today. 5G is not available everywhere, but users in regions offering the technology will see download speeds of 2.5 Gbps and upload speeds up to 660 Mbps.
Qualcomm says the new 400-series processor will offer key improvements over the previous generation. The Snapdragon 480 should double the speed performance of its predecessor, the Snapdragon 460. Qualcomm credits its 8-nm manufacturing process, along with new CPU and GPU elements for the improvement. Qualcomm says AI tasks will see a 70% improvement over the previous generation.
It will also offer 64-megapixel images and the capacity to capture photos from each of three onboard cameras simultaneously. Three 720p videos can also be captured at the same time.
Other features of the 480 include Bluetooth 5.1 and adoption of Charge 4+ standard that will offer better charging-speeds in new phones.
Announcement of manufacturers using the new processor will be made in the coming months. Vivo, Oppo, Xiaomi, Motorola and Nokia are expected to be among the early adopters.
In a statement released Monday, Kedar Kondap, vice president, product management at Qualcomm Technologies, said, “Qualcomm Technologies continues to accelerate 5G commercialization globally to make 5G smartphones more accessible, especially as people worldwide continue to connect remotely. The Snapdragon 480 5G Mobile Platform will exceed OEM’s and consumer’s expectations in delivering high- and mid-tier features at an affordable price.”
Qualcomm led the introduction of 5G technology with a series of platforms introduced early last year. Those platforms included the Snapdragon 854, 765, 750G and 690. Its new flagship Snapdragon 888 is due to be unveiled later this month.
Today’s announcement is just the opening salvo of what promises to be year filled with improved and innovative features in a tech filed expanding at explosive pace. According to Review 42, a website devoted to tech enthusiasts, there are 5.11 billion mobile phone users globally tapping, swiping and clicking their phones an average of 2,617 times a day. Worldwide, they say, more people own cellphones than toothbrushes, and they check those phones more than 50 times a day.
In addition to faster and cheaper 5G smartphones in 2021, the new year also promises devices with faster displays, with refresh rates up to 120Hz and 144Hz; under-display cameras to avoid the unsightly lens bumps populating so many phones today; higher resolution video, up to 8K video capture; and more AR and VR functionality.