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Qualcomm announces budget 5G chips

Signs of Qualcomm and 5G are pictured at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Shanghai, China June 28, 2019.

Aly Song | Reuters

Qualcomm announced on Friday a way to make 5G phones affordable.

If you want a 5G phone in the United States right now, you’ll have to spend at least $1,300 for the Galaxy S10+ 5G or Galaxy Note 10+ 5G, which run on Qualcomm’s current Snapdragon 8 series platform.

It’s one of the reasons you shouldn’t buy a 5G phone just yet. But Qualcomm on Friday announced plans to bring 5G to more affordable phones next year with its new Series 7 and Series 6 platforms that will end up in phones that aren’t as expensive as today’s 5G handsets.

Qualcomm said 12 phone makers have signed on to use its new Snapdragon 7 Series 5G Mobile Platform in new 5G phones, including HMD Global which ships Nokia-branded phones, LG, Motorola, realme, Redmi, Oppo and Vivo, and that customers are already sampling its new chips before building them into future products.

The Series 6 5G Mobile Platform is designed to appeal to more people which, put simply, means it’s built for lower cost phones. Those devices, Qualcomm said, will launch in the second half of next year.

To better put this in perspective: phones that run on Qualcomm’s 8 series chips right now can range in price from around $500 to more than $1,000, depending on the processor and if you add in 5G. But phones running on Snapdragon 6-series processors, like the Snapdragon 625, Snapdragon 636 and Snapdragon 630, cost as little as $299. Right now, there aren’t 5G options for those phones. Next year, with Qualcomm’s new platforms, there will be.

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