When a new technology like 5G launches, it first arrives in high-end, pricey devices and eventually trickles down to less expensive phones. The first 5G phones released last year cost over $1,000 -- the Galaxy S10 5G retailed for $1,300 -- but pricing has been falling quickly.
This year, during a virtual keynote at the Berlin trade show, the San Diego company said the super-fast connectivity will arrive in even lower cost devices that retail for around $125 to $250 because of upcoming chips in its Snapdragon 4-series.
"We're accelerating 5G global commercialization and scale and working to ensure that the most affordable 5G devices worldwide are based on Snapdragon," Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon said Thursday during a virtual keynote at the IFA electronics show.
He didn't name or detail the chips but said Qualcomm will bring high-end features to lower-cost phones. The company will share more information later.
The novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 25 million people around the globe, has caused companies to rethink their product launches. GSMA canceled Mobile World Congress, the world's biggest mobile show, a week before journalists were due to arrive in Barcelona in late February. Instead of phone launches over the past several months, Apple, Samsung, Huawei and OnePlus all held digital events or introduced devices via press release.
IFA, held in Berlin, is the first big tech convention actually taking place during the outbreak. But it's a far scaled-back event, with a maximum 5,000 attendees instead of 200,000. Americans aren't allowed into European countries like Germany, which means companies like Qualcomm have to participate in the conference remotely.
The continued advance of 5G is more critical than ever now that the the coronavirus has radically changed our world. The next-generation cellular technology, which boasts anywhere from 10 to 100 times the speed of 4G and rapid-fire responsiveness, could improve everything from simple video conferencing to telemedicine and advanced augmented and virtual reality. But the pandemic has caused people to watch their spending. Many are scooping up devices that help them work or study from home, but they've been shunning new smartphones.
Bringing 5G to Qualcomm's 4-series Snapdragon chips will go a long way to expanding the connectivity globally. The company estimates it will address regions that have about 3.5 billion smartphone users.
Motorola, Oppo and Xiaomi all vowed to make phones using Qualcomm's upcoming chips. The first 4-series-powered phones will arrive in the first quarter.
"2020 marks the year of 5G proliferation," said Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun, who spoke during Qualcomm's IFA keynote. "Xiaomi will become one of the first companies to introduce a smartphone using the 5G 4-series platform."