5G continues to be the centerpiece of many companies in the mobile industry, as proven by the steady flow of news about coverage and devices. Expecting widespread 5G this year was really more of a wish than realistic forecast but 2020 is widely seen as the year that the next-gen network truly takes hold. Of course, that still depends on just how many 5G-compatible devices there are by next year, which is why Qualcomm is kicking things off early not just with the expected Snapdragon 865 but also a surprise Snapdragon 765.

The Snapdragon 865 is not really unexpected given Qualcomm’s almost predictable cadence when it comes to its flagship silicon. Given the trend in the past year or two, it’s also not unexpected that Qualcomm is putting a heavy emphasis on 5G yet again, particularly “scaling 5G”, and, of course, Artificial Intelligence.

That 5G capability is being provided by the Snapdragon X55 5G modem that was already announced earlier this year. That boasts of a 7 Gbps downlink, in ideal conditions of course, and can fall back to 2G if no other networks are available. The current Snapdragon 855 offered 5G almost as an addon to OEMs that wanted it and it will be interesting to see what strategy Qualcomm has for this year.

A bit unexpected is the Snapdragon 765, its selection for “premium” smartphones. The naming seems to imply a combination of two family trees, one from the Snapdragon 700 series, the other from the 800 line. That definitely is the case with the features intended for the 765, including 5G and “select Snapdragon Elite Gaming experience”. In some sense, it is as much a descendant of the Snapdragon 855 as the 865 is a direct successor.

Qualcomm has not yet divulged full details of these two chips and what consumers can expect from smartphones powered by them. Unveiling them this early, however, does set the tone for next year’s first batch of mobile devices that will, of course, all have some 5G tie-in.


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