Jan 4, 2021 - Technology

Qualcomm brings 5G to its lowest-end chip family

a 5g phone. Image: Qualcomm
Image: Qualcomm

Even budget smartphones will start getting 5G support this year, with Qualcomm announcing today that devices running its new Snapdragon 480 chip will soon hit the market.

Why it matters: The 400 series is the company's lowest-end chip family and the inclusion of 5G is a sign that the technology will become the norm for new devices.

Of note: The new chip supports the fast-but-finicky millimeter-wave frequencies needed for the fastest 5G speeds. Many of last year's 5G phones supported only the more ubiquitous low-band 5G that offers only a modest speed boost over 4G.

  • The Snapdragon 480, first teased last year, also supports the use of up to three cameras simultaneously, a recognition of another big trend in smartphones: multiple lenses.

Yes, but: That doesn't mean that all new phones will support 5G in all its flavors, so it pays to look beyond the 5G label to make sure that a new phone gives you what you are looking for.

What's next: The first devices with this chip are expected early this year. Qualcomm's press release includes quotes from Chinese phone makers Oppo and Vivo, as well as HMD Global, which sells phones under the Nokia brand, so it's likely that those brands will be among the first to offer phones based on the chip.

Go deeper: Get up to speed with Axios' online Short Course on 5G

Go deeper