Qualcomm brings 5G Support, 120Hz Screen Refresh Rate and more to Budget Phones with Snapdragon 690 Mobile Platform

The Snapdragon 690 mobile platform is built on the 8nm node.
The platform brings Sub-6Ghz 5G with support for both SA and NSA bands.
Snapdragon 690 also supports 120Hz screen refresh rate, 4K HDR video capture.

At the IFA 2019 trade show in Berlin, Qualcomm announced its plans of expanding the 5G portfolio beyond flagship chipsets. At the Snapdragon Tech Summit in December 2019, Qualcomm announced the flagship Snapdragon 865, along with Snapdragon 765/765G 5G mobile platforms. Now, six months later, Qualcomm has also announced the Snapdragon 690 mobile platform which brings 5G and other premium features at a more affordable price point.

The Snapdragon 600-series chipsets are widely used in smartphones under the US $300 price point. It is the sweet spot and highly contested segment in major smartphone markets. Smartphones under $300 already come with quad-camera setups, fast-charging batteries, in-display fingerprint scanners, and more. The addition of 5G among other features will make these smartphones even more attractive in 5G markets where consumers want to try out the next-gen connectivity without spending a premium.

Snapdragon 600 Series Leads Mid-Tier Smartphone Segment

counterpoint qualcomm sd600 series percentage shareQualcomm Snapdragon 690 SoC: Key Features

Fast Performance, Energy Efficient

The Snapdragon 690 mobile platform brings key improvements over Snapdragon 675 platform. It is built on Samsung’s 8nm LPP process node making it highly efficient as opposed to 11nm node of Snapdragon 675.

The chipset comes with an octa-core CPU featuring Kryo 560 cores in big.LITTLE architecture. Two of these are Cortex-A77 based performance cores clocked at up to 2GHz, whereas six are Cortex-A56 based efficiency cores clocked at up to 1.7GHz.

Taking care of the graphics is the Adreno 619L GPU. The chipset supports up to 8GB of LPDDR4x RAM. Qualcomm claims that the new chipset offers 20% faster CPU and 60% faster graphics performance over the Snapdragon 675.

Advanced Connectivity

The highlight of the new chipset is the support for 5G connectivity, which is a first for 600-series. Just like the Snapdragon 765-series, the Snapdragon 690 also comes with an integrated modem. But while the X52 5G modem on Snapdragon 765 supports both mmWave and sub-6GHz, the X51 5G modem on the Snapdragon 690 platform only supports sub-6GHz.

The modem also supports Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS), SA (standalone), and NSA (non-standalone) bands, FDD, TDD, and global multi-SIM support. It can offer peak download speeds of up to 1.2Gbps (LTE) and up to 2.5Gbps (5G). In terms of upload speeds, it can offer up to 210 Mbps (LTE) and up to 660 Mbps (5G).

The Snapdragon 690 SoC also brings support for Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ac/802.11ax) with Qualcomm FastConnect 6200 Subsystem, WPA3 security support along with target wake time, and Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity as well. What’s more, the chipset also offers NFC and NavIC GPS support.

counterpoint qualcomm snapdragon 690 features

Smooth Display, Fast Refresh Rate

Flagship smartphones now come with either a 90Hz or 120Hz screen refresh rate, offering smooth visual experience while gaming, watching movies, and videos. Even scrolling through webpages or Ui is smooth. Support for the 120Hz screen refresh rate is another first for the Snapdragon 600-series. It supports display resolution up to Full HD+, along with HDR10 and HDR10+ standards.

The feature is a good addition considering the current work from home (or staying home) scenario due to COVID-19 lockdowns. It is the time where content consumption has increased, where consumers are watching videos and TV shows on smartphones, making video calls to connect with colleagues, family, and friends. A lot of users also end up playing mobile games, and having a screen with a higher refresh rate means enhanced user experience.

192MP Camera Support, Improved Video Recording Capabilities

In the photography department, the Snapdragon 690 SoC supports high-resolution camera sensors up to 192MP. Yet another first for the 600-series chipset is the support for 4K HDR video capture with portrait mode. Slow-motion video capture in HD (720p) resolution and up to 240fps is supported. The Hexagon Tensor AI accelerator has also made it to the chipset, which enables smarter on-device experiences such as the smooth transition between camera lenses, social media filters, voice, and security features.

Talking about 5G smartphones outlook, research analyst, Parv Sharma, said “We expect 19% of the smartphone shipments in 2020 will be 5G capable and this share would grow to 67% by 2024. The penetration of 5G in the above price bands will be the key to mass adoption,”

He further added saying, “in 2020Q1 around 10% of the total smartphone sales were from the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 series. This Snapdragon series is catering to smartphones in the USD100-USD399 bands, around 90% of the smartphones using the 600 series were in these bands. The availability of 5G in the Snapdragon 600 series will provide an impetus towards the growth of 5G in the low to the mid-end smartphone market, thereby driving global 5G penetration.”

Conclusion: Bringing 5G to Lower Tier, A Key To Drive Adoption

5G has been a buzzword for the past few years, and it started to proliferate in China and the Western markets in 2019. Before the coronavirus outbreak, we were expecting 2020 to be a breakout year in terms of device availability, network rollouts, and coverage. 5G has become a default feature and a key selling point for premium smartphones, but COVID-19 impact signals a possible shift in consumer buying intention.

Our recent Consumer Lens Study reveals one in three smartphone buyers will cut their spending by 20% on their next smartphone purchase. The study was conducted across seven major smartphone markets such as Spain, Italy, India, the USA, and the UK among others. With tough economic conditions across the globe, we are also likely to see a lengthening replacement cycle.

Not everyone can afford a flagship smartphone to experience premium features, and OEMs are answering these consumer needs with affordable premium smartphones. Features like quad-cameras with hybrid zoom, fast-charging battery, high refresh rate display, and 5G have been made available on the affordable premium devices. But as consumer spending is likely to reduce, the Snapdragon 690 platform comes at the right time, which will make these features available on mid-range phones.

HMD Global, Motorola, Sharp, TCL, and LG are among the companies that are planning to release Snapdragon 690 powered smartphones in H2 2020.

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Ritesh is a Global Content Manager with Counterpoint Technology Market Research. With over 10 years of experience, he is joining Counterpoint from BGR India where he was the Head of Features. At BGR, Ritesh also used to cover tech news, product launches, and review consumer tech. Ritesh is a science graduate from Mumbai University, with major in Physics. He followed his passion for tech, took up writing as a career and is also a well-known tech journalist in the industry.

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