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5G chipmaker aims for China phone wins and an edge on Qualcomm

id="article-body" class="row" section="article-body"> Smartphones using MediaTek's 5G integrated chip will arrive early in 2020.

Getty Images Qualcomm's about to see more competition in the 5G chip market. 

Taiwan-based MediaTek said late Tuesday it's built its first processor that integrates the brains of a device on the same chip as 5G, 4G and other wireless connectivity, which should improve the battery life of devices. The company's biggest customers will get samples in the third quarter of this year, and the first commercial handsets with the processor will launch in the first quarter of 2020. 

Now playing: Watch this: galaxy s8 plus antutu benchmark See Galaxy S10 5G's jaw-dropping real-world speeds 8:44 Qualcomm leads the industry when it comes to 5G connectivity chips, with virtually all high-end 5G Android phones using its modems this year. Samsung, huawei y6 2019 specs OnePlus, Oppo and Xiaomi all have unveiled devices based on Qualcomm's processors. huawei mate 10 specs, Samsung and MediaTek are the only other companies building 5G modems -- and with Huawei and Samsung largely keeping their modems for their own devices, it's only MediaTek that truly competes with Qualcomm in the broader 5G handset chip market. 

At least initially, MediaTek's 5G chip will largely appear in Chinese phones, said Finnbar Moynihan, MediaTek's vice president of corporate sales and business development in the Americas and Europe. The company's technology taps into only sub-6GHz airwaves, the slower but more reliable flavor of 5G favored by T-Mobile in the US and most carriers in Europe and Asia. In the US, Verizon's and AT&T's initial 5G networks use the shorter-range but faster millimeter wave spectrum, which means phones on those networks today require Qualcomm 5G modems. 

See also

Galaxy S10 5G, Mate X, Motorola Mod: Why you shouldn't rush to buy a 5G phone

5G will rule on high-end phones by year's end, ready or not

Samsung Galaxy S11 5G may be slimmer, last longer thanks to Qualcomm

Qualcomm already has a new 5G chip that promises sleeker, long-lasting phones
"To launch in markets like Europe and North America, there's a longer qualification cycle that takes a couple of extra months," Moynihan said in an interview ahead of the chip announcement. "We expect [the 5G chip] to come to other regions in the middle ... or second half of next year."

He added that while MediaTek doesn't yet have a 5G chip that taps into millimeter wave spectrum, it's working on the technology and will likely share information "maybe in the next year."

For MediaTek, its new processor marks a push into higher-end phones and an effort to be at the forefront of the 5G market. The company has lagged behind Qualcomm in moving to faster modem speeds in the past, and most of its customers have focused on phones aimed more at midrange prices. Its new chipset, though, huawei honor 20 lite specs p30 pro specs will be geared at pricey, high-end smartphones.

"2020 is really going to be the year the volume of 5G devices take off on a more global scale," Moynihan said. "We're going to be right there at the start of it with devices launching next year."
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