Qualcomm unveils new chip to power 5G smart phones

People walk by a display promoting 5G connectivity on the Qualcomm booth during the 2019 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA January 8, 2019. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

(Reuters) – Qualcomm Inc on Tuesday introduced the second generation of the so-called modem chips to connect phones 5G networks, the speed of the race around faster wireless data connections, expected to start rolling out later this year.

Qualcomm, the world’s largest mobile chip supplier, is the hope of the device will be the fuel for the spread of 5G phones later this year and next year. While Chinese phone makers such as Xiaomi Corp last year, used Qualcomm’s first-generation chip for small batches of 5G phones, the second-generation chip, announced Tuesday, is focused on mass production.

The move comes a day before Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, the world’s largest smartphone maker, is set to announce the new flagship of the Galaxy series of phones. Samsung and Qualcomm in December publicly committed to work together to have a 5G phone this year, and analysts believe Samsung unveils a 5G version of its flagship models this week.

Qualcomm chips are entering a crowded field. Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the world’s third largest smartphone maker, last month announced that it has built a 5G chip, which it will use in its own phones. Samsung also has a 5G modem called the Exynos 5100 that will power many Samsung devices sold outside the United States. Taiwan-based MediaTek Inc also has 5G chip, the Intel Corp focused on the second half of this year for a release.

The carriers in Korea and China, meanwhile, are set to start turning on the networks this spring with carriers in the United States, planning rollout for later this year.

For Qualcomm’s part, the company is also introducing a number of chips environment of the modem. Some elements of 5G phones, such as the design of antennas and chips for the handling of analog radio waves, are more complicated than the previous generations of phones. Qualcomm is aiming to increase the speed of adoption of 5G by the sale of this technology to phone makers.

“This year, virtually every major Android [phone maker] will launch a phone with 5G,” said Ignacio Contreras, head of 5G marketing for Qualcomm.

Apple Inc has not said when the iPhone will have 5G capabilities.

In the iphone released last year, Apple had Qualcomm chips in favour of Intel. Apple announced in a hearing last month that it had held talks with MediaTek and Samsung about the supply of modems for 2019 iPhones, but Bloomberg previously reported that 5G iPhones will not appear until 2020.

Reporting by Stephen Nellis, Edited by Paul Franklin

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