Qualcomm’s next budget Snapdragon 4-series chips could take 5G mainstream in 2021

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Qualcomm is expanding its 5G portfolio to its budget Snapdragon 4-series chipsets in 2021, which will bring the faster networking standard to the cheapest range of smartphones yet.

Qualcomm has steadily been expanding the list of chipsets that it’s offered with 5G compatibility. In 2019, only the company’s flagship Snapdragon 8-series phones offered 5G support. (Even there, it was an optional addition only offered on a handful of phones.) This year has seen that lineup expand significantly, with the current Snapdragon 865 lineup requiring a separate 5G modem, along with cheaper options in the company’s 7-series and 6-series lineups like the Snapdragon 765 and Snapdragon 690.

But adding 5G to the next wave of 4-series chipsets could be the most significant expansion yet since 4-series devices tend to be among the cheapest Android phones available, often costing $200 or less. The addition of 5G to those cheaper phones would give the network technology a much broader audience than the current slate of 5G devices, the cheapest of which still tend to cost in the $500 range, but Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon tweeted that he expects to these 5G phones range in price from $125 to $250.

Qualcomm hasn’t announced many details for the upcoming 5G-compatible 4-series chips, like what modem it’ll use, whether it’ll be integrated into the chipset or require a standalone unit within the phone, or if it’ll support mmWave networks or just sub-6GHz ones.

More details on the upcoming Snapdragon 4-series 5G chips should be coming soon, with Qualcomm expecting the first commercial phone releases in the first quarter of 2021. Oppo, Xiaomi, and Motorola are among the major companies that have committed to designing 5G phones powered by the new Snapdragon 4-series chipset.

Update, 2:20 PM ET: Added an expected price range for 5G phones from Qualcomm president’s tweet.

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