Qualcomm is having another go at making a dent in the affordable handsets market, and its latest bet is bringing 4G LTE capability to feature phones.
The chipmaker announced on Monday a new line of chips for entry-level phones.
The SoC (system-on-a-chip) line is called the Qualcomm 205 Mobile Platform, and is the first time it’s bringing 4G LTE capability to feature phones, company executives said.
Although feature phones are quickly disappearing from developed markets, they are still very popular in developing regions such as India.
Last year alone, about 148 million feature phones shipped in India, according to marketing research firm Counterpoint.
Qualcomm struggles in the entry-level market.
But Qualcomm, which holds the tentpole position in high-end smartphone markets, continues to struggle in entry-level smartphones and feature phone markets.
The company’s processor powered just 12 percent of feature phones that were shipped in India last year, Tarun Pathak, senior analyst at Counterpoint said.
Rival chipmaker Mediatek assumes a better position, in comparison.
“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,” Pathak added.
In addition to 4G LTE support, the Qualcomm 205 Mobile Platform also brings advanced LTE data services such as Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWi-Fi), improved power consumption, and up to 150Mbps download speeds.
The Qualcomm 205 Mobile Platform is a dual-core processor clocked at 1.1GHz. The processor is designed to support Linux-based operating systems and can house up to 3-megapixel rear and selfie camera on a phone.
The move comes at a time when several smartphone manufacturers are rekindling their love for feature phones. Nokia reintroduced the 3310 handset at MWC.
India’s Reliance Jio is working on a range of feature phones too, according to four people familiar with the matter.
At a media event in New Delhi, Qualcomm said it has partnered with several manufacturers to provide its processor to their phones. Some of these partners include the largest Indian smartphone brand Micromax, Reliance Jio, Borqs, and TCL. These phones will start to hit the market in Q2, it said.