Since the first 5G phone launched in 2019, we've rapidly seen an increase in the number of next-gen handsets launched, and in late 2021 very few 4G mobiles still get released. But one tech company still thinks there's a place for them.
Qualcomm is a big company that's known for making the chipsets used in most premium phones, with companies like OnePlus, Samsung, Xiaomi and Motorola using its silicon, though it does other hardware and software too. Qualcomm just launched four brand-new chipsets, all low-end or mid-range ones.
First up there's the Snapdragon 778 Plus, which as the name suggests is a successor to the non-Plus version, and this will likely be the most powerful mid-range chipset the company makes. The company says it has boosted GPU and CPU performance from the Snapdragon 778.
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Next is the Snapdragon 480 Plus, again a follow-up to the low-end Snapdragon 480 which we've seen a fair few budget devices use. This is a 5G chipset designed for low-end phones, and will likely be a tad more powerful than its non-Plus sibling.
Third we come to the Snapdragon 695 5G, which is an improvement on the 690 we saw in a few low-end phones, and Qualcomm is saying it has a 15% more powerful CPU and will render graphics 30% quicker, which should be useful for gaming.
Lastly, and most relevant to this article, is the Snapdragon 680 4G. Unlike the previously-listed chipsets, this only connects to 4G networks, in a head-scratching move.
Analysis: brands disagree that 4G is here to stay
Qualcomm making a 4G-only chipset suggests it still thinks there's a space in the mobile market for phones that aren't connected to next-gen networks. However it's not clear if brands agree.
In its press release announcing these four new chipsets, Qualcomm included testimonials from top brands regarding the new silicon, with many companies pledging to put out devices using one or another of the chips.
HMD Global, which makes Nokia phones, said it'll use the Snapdragon 480 Plus soon, while Oppo laid dibs on the Snapdragon 695 5G and Xiaomi mentioned the 695 Plus and 778 Plus. Vivo, Motorola and Honor all detailed combinations of the chipsets too.
The only chipset not mentioned by name by any brand was – you guessed it – the Snapdragon 680 4G. Apparently to be invited into the 'cool club', you need 5G.
This shows a lack of interest on the part of these brands regarding 4G phones – in fact, some of the brands listed above only put out 5G mobiles for the global market.
So is there still a place for 4G mobiles? Qualcomm says yes, but behind it, many other brands are shaking their heads. We'll have to see if any brands choose to use the Snapdragon 680 4G chipset, instead of the other three components announced.
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