4G isn't dead yet: this chip will power non-5G phones in 2020

Qualcomm Snapdragon
(Image credit: Qualcomm)

While 2020 is the year we finally get more 5G phones, we’re far from seeing the end of 4G handsets. Qualcomm introduced a trio of new chipsets that will likely ship in this year’s higher-end and mid range phones, proving there’s still plenty of market space for smartphones that don’t hook up to next-gen networks.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 720G, 662, and 460 are aimed at phones in India, though the chipmaker notes they’ll likely come in phones that arrive in the US, too, according to PocketNow

The 720G (the G stands for gaming) is an octa-core chipset aimed at higher-end smartphones. Features include on-device AI (a privacy-focused priority for handsets from Samsung and others) and display resolution up to 2,520 x 1,080, along with 800Mbps top down speeds - still a respectable number, especially compared to the lower-band 5G networks. 

The chipset also enables up to 192 MP photos, per the press release, which will account for the high-megapixel main lenses going into phones. While the Samsung Galaxy S20 won't pack the Snapdragon 720G, it's setting an example with its rumored 108MP main shooter.

The octa-core 662, on the other hand, has download speeds up to 390Mbps and supports triple-camera suites that shoot and save in the HEIF file format. The Snapdragon 460 is an improvement on the 450, which Qualcomm claims is 50% faster than its predecessor.

A 5G future - but still a 4G present

While cheaper chipsets are coming out with 5G capability, it’s still early days for 5G networks, which are still building out coverage in area, reliability, and speed. 

Given that 5G phones have cost even more than their 4G counterparts, it makes sense that we’ll get another year of handsets that don’t need to hook up to 5G networks. For consumers who aren’t going to pay top-dollar anyway, there’s still a demand for phones that just work - on a well-tested and built-out network.

  • Still eager for super-fast speeds? Here's our list of all the 5G phones out there
David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.