- Qualcomm's newly announced Snapdragon 865 chip comes in a single variant that all but guarantees that the top Android phones of 2020 will support 5G connectivity.
- The previous generation Snapdragon 855 chip came in two variants -- one that supported 5G and one that did not, which gave phone makers an option to offer top phones with or without 5G.
- Despite the availability of a 5G variant Snapdragon 855, most phones ran on the non-5G variant. Those that came with the 5G Snapdragon 855 came with significantly higher price tags.
- No phones that will run on the new Snapdragon 865 have been announced yet, and there's no indication to how much a phone running on the new chip will cost.
Qualcomm just announced the new Snapdragon 865 chip that will turn the wheels in the top Android smartphones of 2020, and it all but guarantees that those phones will support 5G connectivity.
5G is the next generation of mobile network that promises faster speeds for video streaming, cloud storage, cloud gaming like Google's Stadia, and enabling new features and innovations in apps that require faster and better performance than the current 4G LTE networks we've been using for over five years.
Apart from the chips themselves, there's one major difference in this chip release compared to the last generation: The Snapdragon 865 only comes in one single variant that supports 5G connectivity, and it should ensure that all top Android phones of 2020 will support 5G.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 running in 2019 smartphones came in two different variants -- one that supported 5G and one that did not. This meant that many of the top Android phones of 2019 rolled out with the non-5G variant of the Snapdragon 855, while a select few phones with higher price tags came with the 5G variant of the Snapdragon 855.
By making the Snapdragon 865 that supports 5G the only mobile chip available for top Android phones of 2020, we can expect that most top Android smartphones will, indeed, have the ability to connect to a 5G network. There are no non-5G variants of the Snapdragon 865 chip.
If an Android phone maker wanted to release a smartphone without 5G connectivity in 2020, perhaps to make it cheaper, it would have to be the previous generation non-5G variant of the Snapdragon 855.
So far, no smartphones that will run the Snapdragon 865 chip in 2020 have been announced, which means we don't have a price range for a top Android 5G smartphone in 2020. It has yet to be seen if the Snapdragon 865 will bump the price tags on the already highly priced top Android phones, like the Galaxy S10 that started at $900 at launch.
The Galaxy S10 5G that contained the 5G variant of the Snapdragon 855 started at $1,400 at launch.
While those who buy a top Android phone in 2020 will have 5G-capable phones, they may not be able to connect to a 5G network. As far as the availability of 5G networks in the US, it's rather sparse. T-Mobile's recently announced nationwide 5G network is currently the most expansive out of all the US carriers. AT&T and Verizon's 5G networks are most limited to pockets of a handful of cities.
With that said, 5G network availability will expand in 2020.
Apart from 5G, the Snapdragon 865 brings overall performance improvements over the soon-to-be-previous generation Snapdragon 855 chip.