Qualcomm is bringing 5G to its entry-level Snapdragon 4-series chipsets

The tech could be ready by early 2021.

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This summer, Qualcomm announced a new 5G-capable Snapdragon 690 chipset. Bringing 5G to 6-series phones means cheaper devices have access to the tech. But Qualcomm isn’t stopping at the 6-series. Today, it announced plans to bring 5G to its Snapdragon 4-series in early 2021. The move will bring 5G to even more affordable phones. 

Details are still sparse, but Xiaomi founder and CEO Lei Jun said the company plans to be one of the first OEMs to introduce a smartphone powered by Snapdragon’s 4-series 5G mobile platform. Motorola and OPPO also made statements supporting Qualcomm’s plans to scale 5G tech to the 4-series.

5G is available on more than 80 commercial networks in 35 countries. “Our Snapdragon 4-series is expected to address regions that currently have approximately 3.5 billion smartphone users combined,” said Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon.

As we’ve noted before, smartphones that use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8-series chipsets, like the OnePlus 8 and Galaxy S20 series, typically cost upwards of $700. The 5G-capable Snapdragon 7-series is typically found on devices in the $500 to $700 range. The Snapdragon 690 chipset isn’t here yet, but phones with the LTE-only Snapdragon 675 typically sell between $300 and $400. We don’t know yet how much phones with the new 5G-capable Snapdragon 4-series chipsets will cost, but we’ve seen 4-series phones, like the Nokia 4.2, start as low as $139.

The caveat here is the new 4-series chipsets will probably only work with sub-6 5G, not the mmWave tech that carriers like Verizon (Engadget’s parent company) have invested in. That’s not surprising though. This spring the Global Mobile Suppliers Association reported that only about 30 percent of “all announced 5G devices” support the high-speed mmWave networks.

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