There is still a long way to go before budget Android phones have mmWave technology, experts note. They say this is likely because mmWave is still too new and too expensive to bring into phones, and until there are more manufacturers making the necessary hardware, we’re unlikely to see it in more affordable devices.
Last week, Apple’s iPhone SE began selling to customers. The phone has a powerful A15 processor but it lacks millimeter wave capabilities. The iPhone SE supports the new C-band 6GHz network, and Roger Entner, telecom analyst and founder of Recon Analytics, says Apple’s change is mainly due to cost.
“The answer is cost. Qualcomm gets money from all the 5G providers, and if you put in two modems, they get twice the money. You can’t put in a millimeter-wave budget and be affordable,” he says. “At least with Qualcomm. And a Qualcomm modem… advanced. MediaTek is mid- and low-end.”
As PCMag’s Sascha Segan said, “mmWave 5G is widely known to tend to drive up phone prices. Millimeter wave versions of phones that also have non-mmWave versions, such as Google Pixels, tend to cost around $100 more in retail than Versions that do not support mmWave”.
And if Apple wants to be able to meet the needs of consumers who don’t want to spend thousands of dollars, Entner says it would be impossible to sell the phone at the price it does with a mmWave antenna.
What is mmWave technology and why should you care about it?
Right now, most phones in the US have 5G capabilities but it’s part of Sub-6GHz 5G, which is good for overall coverage and bandwidth. 5G mmWave is a new cellular technology that delivers faster speeds over shorter distances. Millimeter wave is currently restricted to short distances and experts say it is most useful in areas that benefit from very high bandwidth such as stadiums and city centers.
What mmWave frequencies offer is the ability to transmit a lot of data over a relatively short distance, wrote Jerry Hildenbrand of AC. That’s why current mmWave 5G rollouts have spotty coverage – they’re super fast as long as you’re close to the cell location you’re connecting to. mmWave is bad for transmitting between cell towers along a deserted highway.
Anshel Sag, chief analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, says mmWave is a challenging technology but it’s not new or niche.
“It has applications across the spectrum and the big problem is that it has been over-marketed and expensive to deploy without smart repeaters for mobile applications,” he says. “Fixed wireless applications are plentiful and I think the indoor and outdoor use of mmWave in densely populated areas is probably among their greatest applications.”
Until recently, Verizon has been paying manufacturers to include mmWave in phones, although PC Mag’s Segan says this is slowly changing noting that it has “shifted focus from mmWave to its new 6GHz sub-C-band network, which has some” bandwidth. Ultra Wide ” “branded as mmWave, but much better range.”
“Verizon has had nothing meaningful to offer for 5G other than mmWave, and to be able to ensure that average 5G speeds were good enough, users need mmWave support,” says Sage for Longest Time.
He points out that Verizon has been leaning towards mmWave aggressively in football stadiums and argues that all operators should have mmWave at all major sporting venues.
Can mmWave be seen in budget Android devices?
As of now, some of the best Android phones have mmWave capabilities sold in the US, so the question is: Will budget devices get mmWave and when?
Sag says mmWave technology will continue to be a distinct advantage in the near future on more expensive devices until more companies release their own mmWave units and reduce the cost.
“I think MediaTek will help do that this year with its mmWave solution coming later this year with the original equipment manufacturer in Verizon. Ultimately, for mmWave to be successful, there must be more suppliers, more devices, and more applications that Pushing size and competition.Qualcomm has solved many mmWave problems as far as size and power are concerned, but the cost issue is still significant, especially when you consider that most devices still require 3 mmWave antenna modules to ensure a good signal regardless of user manual mode, Sag says .
In June 2021, Qualcomm announced that it was making a major global push for mmWave and said it was partnering with more than 35 carriers for this to happen. Companies committed to developing mmWave include AT&T and Motorola in the United States, Deutsche Telekom, Orange and HMD Global in Europe, Kyocera and Samsung in South Korea, Optus in Australia, and at least 15 companies in China and Asia Pacific. Quiet.
Sag still doesn’t think that’s enough because it’s mostly about it [Qualcomm’s] Proprietary solutions,” he says, adding that there must be other mmWave solutions that don’t rely solely on Qualcomm.
“Because mmWave is being written off as Qualcomm’s technology rather than a true 5G advantage for everyone to properly implement it,” he says.
While Bill Ho, principal analyst at 556 Ventures, agrees with Sag that global mmWave adoption will drive costs down and eventually make its way into budget-friendly mainstream hardware, he doesn’t think it’s a bad thing that Qualcomm is leading the way for this to happen.
“There is nothing wrong with defending a position. Qualcomm has been the leader in the mmWave industry. By doing so, they are making it easier to accelerate mmWave,” he says. “Qualcomm has been trying for a long time to get manufacturers to use their products. They have spent a lot of R&D money creating a Snapdragon flagship line so they don’t get a free ride. Their technology works and that’s what manufacturers are looking for. As an example, Apple has tried to use Intel modems even They decided the performance wasn’t good enough.So they use Qualcomm as a temporary measure.But Qualcomm offered their own front end antenna product but Apple passed.
Ultimately, Hu says, manufacturers can make their own decision based on where they are in the industry. He says Samsung has its own Exynos chips but they are only used in certain markets and Qualcomm has been used in others.
“So it’s not as I see all manufacturers get under Qualcomm’s thumbs,” he says, referring to MediaTek as a viable competitor as a low-cost supplier.
There is a lot to hate mmWave
Not only are there many reviewers and skeptics who don’t believe mmWave is all it’s purported to be, but municipalities are also resisting placing little “stations” everywhere. This makes it difficult to cover an area effectively.
Sage says there are a lot of mmWave haters out there and believes it’s because “people are misled by Verizon’s heavy mmWave marketing,” which has soured many people’s opinions about 5G even though the technology has “only improved in approx. From every imaginable way.”
Ho agrees to point out that many people don’t fully understand the tech promise that mmWave brings.
“It is possible that they are not productive people and do not understand technical progress on a deeper level,” he says.
Ho says Verizon has been essentially championing it globally, but the technology is still being developed.
“However, it is already being implemented for Verizon’s fixed wireless access and in crowded places like stadiums or concerts where ‘fat’ tubes can provide capacity and reduce congestion,” he adds.
We may not see mmWave in affordable phones anytime soon, but as more manufacturers step in, the technology can continue to improve and deliver on its promise. Millimeter wave is finally the last piece in the 5G puzzle and once it becomes more readily available, opinions about 5G and mmWave could change for the better.