On Monday, Qualcomm announced a new line of chips for feature phones. Such phones are easy to use, durable and can last days on a single charge, and now they can enjoy fast data speeds too. Qualcomm’s most recent 205 chipsets enable the most simple (no touchscreen or app store) phones to enjoy 4G LTE.
Qualcomm’s 205 to give feature phones new life
Qualcomm’s 205 mobile platform is designed to bring 4G connectivity to feature phones, and its SoC will feature the X5 Category 4 LTE modem with a download speed of 150Mbps. The chip maker introduced its most recent product at an event in New Delhi, India. The product – an entry-level SoC – is aimed at developing markets like India, South Africa and Vietnam.
Phones based on Qualcomm’s tech will include an Adreno GPU, a dual-core CPU with 1.1GHz clock speed, high upload speeds of 50Mbps, dual-SIM support, NFC capabilities and 150Mbps download speeds. The handsets can also support VGA displays at 480p and 60 frames per second, a 0.3-megapixel front camera and a 3-megapixel rear camera. The mobile platform supports 720p video streaming at 30fps, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, VoLTE and VoWIFI, and Bluetooth 4.1.
These boring phones will also support mobile payment solutions and access to music and video streaming apps. There have been LTE-enabled feature phones in the past as well, like the Sonim XP5 and Kyocera DuraXE, but these are “niche devices that are rare and oftentimes rugged,” notes CNET.
Feature phones command a big share in emerging markets
Feature phones may not be the best devices sold today, but they will at least have the ability to upload pictures, stream video and live sports, load news sites, and browse social media. According to a 2016 report by IDC, 80% of all phones will be 4G-compatible by 2020.
In emerging markets like India, feature phones are sold in large numbers. According to marketing research firm Counterpoint, about 148 million feature phones were shipped in India in 2016.
Counterpoint senior analyst Tarun Pathak said, “4G feature phones still make a lot of sense in a country like India. We estimate that around 140 million feature phones — 40 percent of worldwide shipment — will be sold in India this year.”
Several big smartphone makers are coming up with feature phones. At the Mobile World Congress this year, the iconic Nokia 3310 was re-launched with better capabilities. Phones based on Qualcomm’s 205 platform will be available sometime next quarter.