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Snapdragon 690 Lowers 5G Entry Price

June 30, 2020

Author: Mike Demler

In about six months, Qualcomm has introduced three 5G Snapdragon processors targeting the hypercompetitive $300–$600 smartphone segment. Its latest response to competitors is the Snapdragon 690, which brings 7-series features to the top of the 6-series lineup. It’s the first mid-premium Snapdragon with Cortex-A77 CPUs, replacing both the older 675 and the 720G.

The 690 is the first 6-series processor with an integrated 5G modem, reducing Qualcomm’s 5G entry price, but it blurs the line between the 6- and 7-series. Although it omits millimeter-wave (mmWave) support, it delivers the same sub-6GHz downlink and uplink speeds as the Snapdragon 765 and 768G. The mmWave omission means 690-powered phones won’t work on Verizon’s 5G network, but other US operators have deployed sub-6GHz, and it’s the only 5G flavor in China and Europe.

Although the 690 brings considerable upgrades to the 6-series, it faces fierce competition in the $300–$400 tier. We expect 5G-phone prices in China will fall below $200 by the time 690-powered models reach production. Unisoc will likely undercut MediaTek, leaving little room for the 690 in that market.

The Snapdragon 690 should fare better in the US, where Samsung has begun selling Galaxy A71/A51 phones powered by the Snapdragon 765G. At $600, the Galaxy A71 is the lowest-price 5G phone in the US, leaving plenty of room for a cheaper 690-based model. Whereas phones integrating those 7-series chips target gamers, however, more consumers are attracted to camera features. The Snapdragon 690 excels in that department, making it a good solution for the low end of the mid-premium segment outside China.

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