Flagship smartphones could be set for price drop

High-end smartphones could be set for a fall in price in the future following a landmark decision by chipmaker Qualcomm.

The US firm, which supplies hardware to the vast majority of Android and iOS products on the market today, has indicated that it is prepared to cut the cost for device manufacturers to license its patents.

Doing so may lead to cheaper costs to manufacture smartphones featuring high-tech services such as superfast download speeds, and could also allow more low-cost devices to include such features, rather than keeping them locked to premium flagship devices.


The news was included in Qualcomm's latest quarterly earnings report, which although revealing details of higher profits and revenues, also showed that the company's licensing business had dropped away.

The company typically generates licensing revenue as a percentage of how much a device using its patents sells for. Now in order to increase this rate, Qualcomm is set to lower the price cap for devices it takes such revenues from to just $400.

Alongside this, more expensive devices, such as the $999 iPhone X or $839 Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, would still be treated as $400, meaning even more devices can fall under the range. 

The decision follows a similar move by the company back in November to license out patents required to connect to 5G networks currently in development.

Qualcomm has been engaged in several high-profile disputes regarding its patents and licensing in recent months, most notably with Apple, as well as facing regulatory disputes in China and the US.

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.