Cheekily cheap 5G phones expected in 2020: here’s why

A fresh wave of affordable 5G phones could hit the market next year thanks to the arrival of MediaTek’s first 5G chip, according to fresh reports.

The news broke in China on Thursday, before being spotted by eagle eyed writers at GSMArena.

MediaTek revealed its plans to send samples of its 5G chip and Helio M70 modem to suppliers in Q3 this year, with it being expected to enter mass production in Q1 2020. This would mean you could see affordable blowers with the tech appear as early as MWC 2020.

Exact details, including the name of the MediTek chip, remain unknown outside of the fact it will feature support for 80-megapixel cameras, 4K, 60fps video recording and a “third-gen” AI processing engine.

Related: Best cheap phones

MediaTek is one of many companies set to challenge Qualcomm, which is currently the 5G modem supplier for most smartphones and laptops. Apple bought Intel’s modem business in a bid to build its own 5G modems earlier in July.

MediaTek has a strong track record undercutting Qualcomm on cost, which is why its chips tend to appear on low to mid-range handsets from the likes of Xiaomi. We’d expect 5G phones using the MediaTek chip to be cheaper than their Qualcomm rivals as a result.

Related: Best 5G phones

The 5G chip’s arrival next year would be ideally timed, with most network providers aiming to roll out the connectivity to significantly more territories by summer 2020.

EE and Vodafone are currently the only UK carriers with live 5G networks. But even these are only live in select locations in big city hubs, like London and Manchester. Three and O2 will launch 5G networks by the end of the year, but again only in select locations.

5G is a next generation networking technology that aims to offer buyers super speed gigabit-per-second data speeds. This will let you stream triple-A games via the cloud and download movies and entire TV series in minutes.

The only issue with 5G thus far is that, outside of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G, most 5G phones, like the Galaxy S10 5G and OnePlus 7 Pro 5G are extortionately expensive.

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend, using industry standard tests to evaluate products. We’ll always tell you what we find. We may get a commission if you buy via our price links. Tell us what you think – email the Editor