Is there still a place for cheap 4G phones? It seems the manufacturers disagree

Since the launch of the first 5G phone in 2019, we have quickly seen an increase in the number of new generation phones being launched and, at the end of 2021, very few 4G mobiles are still on the market. But a tech company still thinks there is a place for them.

Qualcomm is a large company known for making the chipsets used in most high-end phones, with companies like OnePlus, Samsung, Xiaomi, and Motorola using their silicon, though they also make other hardware and software. Qualcomm has just launched four new chipsets, all of which are low-end or mid-range.

First up, there’s the Snapdragon 778 Plus, which, as the name suggests, is the successor to the non-Plus version, and it’s likely to be the company’s most powerful midrange chipset. The company claims to have improved the performance of the graphics processor and the processor of the Snapdragon 778.

Next is the Snapdragon 480 Plus, again a follow-up to the low-end Snapdragon 480 that we’ve seen a number of budget devices use. It’s a 5G chipset designed for low-end phones, and will likely be a bit more powerful than its non-Plus sibling.

Third, we come to the Snapdragon 695 5G, which is an improvement over the 690 we’ve seen in a few low-end phones, and Qualcomm says it has a 15% more powerful processor and will make graphics 30% faster, which should be useful for games.

Finally, and the most relevant for this article, is the Snapdragon 680 4G. Unlike the chipsets listed previously, this one only connects to 4G networks, in a jaw-dropping motion.


Analysis: brands disagree that 4G is here to stay

Qualcomm, which makes a 4G-only chipset, suggests that it still believes there is space in the mobile market for phones that aren’t connected to next-gen networks. However, it’s not clear if the brands agree.

In its press release announcing these four new chipsets, Qualcomm included testimonials from major brands regarding the new silicon, with many companies pledging to release devices that use either chip.

HMD Global, which makes Nokia phones, said it will be using the Snapdragon 480 Plus soon, while Oppo asked about the Snapdragon 695 5G and Xiaomi mentioned the 695 Plus and 778 Plus. Vivo, Motorola and Honor all detailed chipset combinations too.

The only chipset not mentioned by any brand was – you guessed it – the Snapdragon 680 4G. Apparently, to be invited to the “cool club” you need 5G.

This shows a lack of interest from these brands in 4G phones – in fact, some of the brands listed above only offer 5G mobiles for the global market.

So, is there still a place for 4G mobiles? Qualcomm says yes, but behind it, many other brands are shaking their heads. We’ll have to see if any brands choose to use the Snapdragon 680 4G chipset, instead of the other three advertised components.

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