America is getting lapped on affordable 5G. While we still have zero 5G phones priced below $699 here, chipset maker Qualcomm is spinning out its second-generation, low-cost 5G chipset for countries with more affordable sales strategies.
The new Snapdragon 768G, a spec bump from December’s 765G, boosts the processor’s fastest core from 2.4GHz to 2.8GHz and increases graphics performance by 15 percent with the Adreno 620 GPU.
Unlike the flagship Snapdragon 865, which is in all the recent US 5G phones, the 765 and 768G have an integrated 5G modem. The X52 has half the speed of the X55, but as it’s an integral part of the chipset, it makes for a much less expensive product. Download speeds of 3.7Gbps and upload speeds of 1.6Gbps are more than any US network can offer right now. The chipset also supports 120Hz screens and 192-megapixel image capture; it’s no slouch.
The chipset’s announcement is timed around the launch of the Redmi K30 5G Racing Edition, a new gaming phone that will surely never see our shores. Even as the US economy crashes and $1,000 phones look less and less appealing, US carriers don’t seem willing or able to pivot fast enough to pick up the many low-cost 5G phones on offer around the world.
Nothing for the US Here (Yet)
The Nubia Red Magic 5G hasn’t been certified by any US 5G carrier.
There are now 39 smartphones with the Snapdragon 765 series processors, but zero of them are available through US carriers. This has helped keep the price of 5G phones in the US quite high: while KiMovil shows Xiaomi and Realme 5G phones running for under $300, the cheapest US 5G phone is currently the $699 OnePlus 8 for T-Mobile.
5G phones in the US appear to be overpriced in general; I’ve asked OEMs and chipset makers, but this appears to be a hot-button issue where none of them want to comment on the record. Qualcomm’s Ignacio Contreras recently pointed out four Snapdragon 865-based, 5G phones that cost under $600 at retail, but none are widely available in the US. Two are from Xiaomi, which has declined to enter our market, but one is from Vivo, which is a cousin-company of OnePlus under the same parent, and one is from Nubia, which doesn’t seem to have gotten 5G certification from any US carrier.
The first less expensive, Snapdragon 765-based 5G phones in the US may be the TCL 10 5G and the Nokia 8.3, but neither has a firm launch date.