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Image credit: Albert Gea / Reuters

Qualcomm's chips bring 4G connectivity to dumb phones

The 205 Mobile Platform is its first low-end chip with a built-in LTE modem.
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Albert Gea / Reuters

In an effort to differentiate its processor lineups (and annoy tech publications), Qualcomm recently renamed its chips as "Mobile Platforms" instead of "processors." We can now see why: It just unveiled the 205 processor, er, Mobile Platform, its first low-end 200-series chips with LTE and no Snapdragon branding. The idea is to bring services like banking, Voice over LTE (VoLTE), and music or video streaming to feature phone users in Latin America, India and other regions just getting high-speed data services.

The chips have lowly specs with dual 1.1GHz CPUs, Adreno GPUs, 480p maximum display support and 3-megapixel front and rear cameras. However, they pack Category 4 LTE modems that allow for 150/50 Mbps download/upload speeds, along with Voice over LTE and Voice over WiFi support. Devices like flip-phones using the chip will also get 45 days of standby time, 20 hours of talk time and 86 hours of music playback -- unheard of numbers for smartphones.

The Qualcomm 205 Mobile Platform allows us to bring 4G connectivity and services to the masses with devices at price points never seen before.

All told, that could be a big help to consumers and micro-enterprises in developing nations. Users can more easily process financials transactions, for instance -- a big help in countries like India that are trying to eliminate cash. At the same time, devices can go days without charging, a boon in places where power is unreliable. "The Qualcomm 205 Mobile Platform allows us to bring 4G connectivity and services to the masses with devices at price points never seen before," says Qualcomm VP Kedar Kondap.

The chips are now being produced, and devices using them should start arriving in the next quarter. If Nokia's successful 3310 reincarnation is any example (that phone doesn't support LTE, by the way), the chips look like a savvy bet by Qualcomm.

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