Qualcomm 205 SoC takes modern connectivity downmarket


— 2:17 PM on March 20, 2017

High-end smartphones with four or eight processor cores are great, but not every device in every market needs that kind of horsepower. Qualcomm's 205 mobile platform is designed to bring relatively modern connectivity to low-power and low-cost devices. Mobile phone buyers that want a no-frills device that works with modern connectivity standards might find a lot to like in the don't-call-it-a-Snapdragon 205 SoC.

The 205 includes 4G LTE connectivity at speeds up to 50 Mbps upstream and 150 Mbps down, as well as support for 802.11n Wi-Fi, though Qualcomm did not say if Wi-Fi is limited to the 2.4 GHz band, or if buyers can expect to connect to 5 GHz networks as well. The platform will work on 2G, 3G, and 4G networks, and is capable of Voice over LTE and Voice over Wi-Fi, so devices packing these chips should be capable of making phone calls as long as some form of communication is present. Qualcomm explicitly named India, Latin America, and Southeast Asia as target markets for the 205, though we suspect North American and European consumers could eventually see them integrated into some kind of connected device.

To power those low-cost devices, the 205 pairs a dual-core ARM CPU of unspecified provenance with an Adreno GPU. The platform includes support for a 3MP primary camera and a VGA selfie shooter for taking in images, and supports display output at "480p" at 60 Hz. The 205 platform is pin-compatible with Snapdragon 210 and 212 SoCs and supports "Linux-based" operating systems, which we imagine includes Google's Android.

If you're wondering why the Qualcomm 205 doesn't carry the Snapdragon name, thank the company's PR department. Qualcomm no longer refers to its SoCs as processors, instead calling them mobile platforms. Furthermore, the marketing department has decided that the Snapdragon name is heretofore reserved for high-end products, which the 205 definitely is not. The company hopes that Snapdragon will become a sought-after feature for smartphone buyers, similar to Intel's "Intel Inside" campaign from the 1990s.

Nokia's revamped 3310 feature phone is just example of a device that simply doesn't need the grunt that the latest wave of high-performance ARM chips can provide, though it is obviously not built on the 205 platform, which is only available to device makers starting today. 3310-like devices could reach consumers before the end of the second quarter of this year.

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