MediaTek M80 5G modem challenges Qualcomm with mmWave and faster speeds

Qualcomm continues to lead the global 5G push, but MediaTek remains committed to offering cheaper, yet powerful alternatives for its mobile partners. Following the recent announcement of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 and Snapdragon 870 chipsets, MediaTek followed up with the its own Dimensity 1100 and 1200. Now the company is flexing its 5G chops with the release of its latest M80 5G modem.

As a follow-up to the company’s first mobile 5G modem, the M70, this newer chip supports impressively fast download and upload speeds of 7.67Gbps and 3.76Gbps, respectively. That’s just slightly faster than what the Quacomm X60 5G modem claims, and even the Samsung Exynos 2100 only claims just 7.35Gbps, although it’s unlikely to see these kinds of speeds in the real-world. Still, it means MediaTek is more than capable of playing big with big boys.

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It should be noted that the M80 is MediaTek’s first chip to support 5G mmWave connectivity. This will allow smartphones equipped with the M80 to access the fastest 5G speeds, particularly in the U.S. where the technology is more popular, as pointed out by JC Hsu, the Corporate Vice President and General Manager of MediaTek’s Wireless Communications Business Unit.

As 5G rollouts accelerate, mmWave is becoming increasingly important, especially in the U.S. MediaTek’s new 5G modem integrates support for both sub-6 GHz and mmWave networks to address this opportunity and give device makers more flexibility. To advance users’ 5G experiences, the new modem supports the latest global cellular standards and specifications and it packs MediaTek’s signature power savings technologies along with ultra-fast speeds.

Improving upon MediaTek’s previous 5G modems, the new M80 supports 5G carrier integration, Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS), Sub-6 GHz and mmWave dual connectivity, and more. MediaTek is also touting its UltraSave technology that increases the efficiency of its chip so that it can optimize its power usage based on the network, even as the modem remains connected in standby.

The new M80 modem is expected to reach smartphone vendors later this year, although the devices and supported SoCs remain a mystery. It will be interesting to see how MediaTek positions itself against Qualcomm, which dominates in the U.S. but has seen its market share fall drastically in China. MediaTek has also seen strong sales in China, thanks to Huawei’s HiSilicon ban, as well as regions like Latin America, making it a strong contender to challenge Qualcomm’s dominance. Last year, MediaTek saw its first mainstream U.S. release with the LG Velvet on T-Mobile, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that some of the best 5G phones this year could be powered by a MediaTek chipset.

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