Qualcomm extends LTE to entry-level smartphone processors

HONG KONG--Qualcomm said it is the first chipmaker to produce an LTE processor for low-cost smartphones as it revealed the Snapdragon 210 with dual-SIM functionality and multimode 3G/LTE Advanced capabilities.

During its eighth annual 3G and LTE Summit, Qualcomm said the new processor also offers LTE Carrier Aggregation of up to 20 MHz, making it the first processor for low-end smartphones that can enable carriers to achieve the maximum LTE throughput of up to 150 Mbps through a combination of RF bands.

In addition to the LTE functionality, the Snapdragon 210 also features an Adreno 300 series GPU, capability to run up to an 8-megapixel camera, and full HD video capture and playback with support for native HEVC--a variant of the H.265 video streaming standard the company said can cut the bandwidth required for video streaming in half.

In a roundtable discussion, Cristiano Amon, EVP of Qualcomm Technologies and co-president of the company's QCT division, told journalists the Snapdragon 210 brings performance features to entry-level LTE smartphones.

"Users want a significant amount of data and we think that should happen at every tier and every price point," he said.

Qualcomm is aiming to tap into markets where users are still upgrading from feature phones to smartphones, Amon explained. "[T]here's no reason we shouldn't , at the same time, transition those new users…into 4G."

Amon noted the introduction of the Snapdragon 210 means Qualcomm's entire range of Snapdragon processors is now compatible with LTE. Previous 200-series processors were "focused on 2G to 3G migration on feature phones to entry-level smartphones." The 210 continues that migration path, but now you can "have that with LTE," Amon said. Qualcomm also released a 3G-only version of the chip, called the Snapdragon 208.

The EVP added that the new chip will "bring performance features to the entry level" while still enabling vendors to sell devices at a "price point to drive the migration" to LTE.

Amon said the new processor taps into growing demand for user-generated content, including pictures and videos. "[W]e provide a full 1080p HD capability…[and] LTE carrier aggregation at that level, which is usually a capability you see in premium-tier smartphones…You have the ability to do LTE Broadcast."

In a question and answer session, Amon confirmed the Snapdragon 210 is aimed at sub-$100 (€77.32) smartphones. The company already has "a number of lead partners" but isn't confirming names at this time, he added. The first smartphones based on the 210 will be released in the first half of 2015, and Qualcomm has also produced a front end reference design featuring the processor for smartphones and tablets.

For more:
- see this Qualcomm blog

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