5G phones are about to get a LOT less expensive

5G phones are about to get a LOT less expensive
(Image credit: Qualcomm)

5G phones are growing in popularity – and with the four iPhone 12 models set to come with 5G later this year, the technology will only grow more attractive. However, one of the biggest problems with 5G phones is that their price point tends to be set quite high. There aren't too many budget 5G phones out at the moment – but that could all change with the latest announcement from Qualcomm, the leading chipset manufacturer.

Qualcomm has announced its first 6-series Snapdragon mobile chipset with support for 5G networks. This is significant, as the only Snapdragon SoCs that have had 5G capabilities before this point have been the higher end 7-series and 8-series chipsets.

• Read more: Best 5G phone for photographers

The Snapdragon 690 is designed to help make 5G "more affordable for consumers worldwide". According to GSMArena, HMD, LG, Motorola, Sharp, TCL and Wingtech are all expected to announce smart devices that will use this new SoC. However, we won't start seeing these devices until the second half of this year and the very earliest.

So what kind of tech can we expect from the Snapdragon 690? The new chipset will be able to support SA, NSA and global 5G bands – but only if they're sub-6GHz. This means that the faster version of 5G, mmWave, won't be available to any phone using this chipset. However, you can also expect 20% faster CPU speeds and 60% faster graphics performance when compared with the Snapdragon 675. 

Affordable 5G phones isn't the only benefit we can expect from the Snapdragon 690. It'll also support 120Hz refresh rate displays at up to FHD+ resolution. This means that users will experience smoother transitions on their screen, which is particularly attractive for gamers. 

While we might not start seeing the benefits of this cheaper chipset for a while, this development means that we'll soon be seeing more affordable 5G phones hit the market. 

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Louise Carey

With over a decade of photographic experience, Louise arms Digital Camera World with a wealth of knowledge on photographic technique and know-how – something at which she is so adept that she's delivered workshops for the likes of ITV and Sue Ryder. Louise also brings years of experience as both a web and print journalist, having served as features editor for Practical Photography magazine and contributing photography tutorials and camera analysis to titles including Digital Camera Magazine and  Digital Photographer. Louise currently shoots with the Fujifilm X-T200 and the Nikon D800, capturing self-portraits and still life images, and is DCW's ecommerce editor, meaning that she knows good camera, lens and laptop deals when she sees them.