Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 690 Wants to Bring 5G to the Masses

By Bill Toulas / June 17, 2020

Qualcomm has presented its cheapest 5G-enabled chip to date, the 8nm Snapdragon 690. This SoC will most probably remain the most inexpensive 5G solution from the American chipmaker throughout 2020, so smartphone manufacturers who want to launch affordable 5G models in the market will opt for it. So far, only the 700 and 800 Snapdragon series chips were able to connect to 5G networks, so to jump onto the high-speed bandwagon, one would need to spend a significant amount of money to buy a flagship or an upper-mid-range device.

Already, phone manufacturers like Motorola, LG, TCL, and Nokia have welcomed this news, as the Snapdragon 690 will help them push 5G devices more aggressively in this emerging market. Until now, consumers weren’t convinced to consider the top-range offerings from these vendors since the benefits that come from 5G connectivity haven’t crystallized yet, and the infrastructure is still under heavy development. The 690, though, promises something entirely different, which is to be “5G ready.” Why pay four hundred USD for a 4G device today when you can get a 5G-ready device for the same amount?

One detail that is worth pointing out is that the Snapdragon 690 is using the X51 5G modem, which isn’t covering the full 5G spectrum but is instead limited to sub-6GHz bands. It means that it won’t be able to use the fastest lanes in 5G networks, but it’s still miles ahead of the greatest performing 4G technologies. Also, depending on where you’re based, you may completely disregard this detail. For example, most European countries are developing sub-6GHz 5G networks anyway, so having a chip that doesn’t support something that’s not even there wouldn't be a problem, right? The story is different in the United States, so you may want to bear this detail in mind.

Apart from the connectivity features, the Snapdragon 690 offers the following:

With everything taken into account, this is purported to be a chip that will sell extremely well during these hard times of diminishing smartphone sales. Of course, you never know, but the Snapdragon 690 looks like it has all the boxes for becoming a best-seller ticked. Now, the ball is on the smartphone vendors’ court - and the consumers, of course.

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