With Snapdragon 690, Qualcomm brings 5G to low-cost smartphones

Qualcomm on Wednesday announced its new mobile processor, Snapdragon 690, which brings 5G to phones at even more accessible price points. The San Diago-based chipset giant said six phone makers will be ready to ship smartphones with the new Snapdragon 690 5G in the second half of 2020, including HMD Global (Nokia), LG, Motorola, Sharp, and TCL, among others.

“We want connectivity to be upgraded to 5G everywhere, and we want to make it affordable to everyone,” Cristiano Amon, President, Qualcomm, said in a pre-recorded video message during a media briefing prior to the launch.

Designed for budget smartphones, the Snapdragon 690 5G includes a Kryo 560 CPU that delivers 20 per cent performance improvement compared to its predecessor. The chipset also features the company’s fifth-generation AI-engine that not only improves camera performance but also massively enhances gaming experiences. Using the company’s X51 5G modem, the Snapdragon 690 processor will bring multi giga speed and “advanced” 5G coverage to the Series 6 platform for the first time.

For the first time, Qualcomm is bringing support for screens with a refresh rate of 120Hz on budget phones. Most high-end Android smartphones these days feature displays with either a 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rate.

Another big improvement is on the imaging side. Qualcomm said the Snapdragon 690 would allow phones to record videos in 4K HDR, first on a budget phone. The company promises that videos will have more colours and greater dynamic range. Plus, the camera will also able to capture a whopping 192MP still images.

Dipu John, Senior Director, Product Management at Qualcomm, said that the Snapdragon 690 will make 5G devices more affordable. For John, the goal is to bring a lot of cutting edge features such as 5G and 4K HDR video recording to low-end devices with the new Snapdragon 690.

Although not particularly aimed at India, Qualcomm said the Snapdragon 690 is designed for global devices. “We stand in a customer’s shoes and ask some fundamental issues like who is the target market, how much will the device cost and what are the key features and then we waterfall these features from the higher tiers into the lower tiers, so that we can cover all the segments and meet our consumer needs,” he said.

Even though the rollout of 5G has been slow in many parts of the world but that hasn’t stopped Qualcomm to release a new 5G-enabled chipset. In March, Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 765G, which offers improved GPU and CPU over its predecessor.