India could have affordable 5G smartphones by the end of the year, said Rajen Vagadia, VP and President, Qualcomm India & SAARC.

In a video interaction with journalists from BusinessLine , the Qualcomm India VP said that India could soon have 5G smartphones in the price range of ₹15,000-20,000. “If I go by the trends of the pastm I can say India will have a ₹15 (thousand) or a ₹20,000 phone that would probably be a 5G going forward,” Vagadia said.

Expansion to lower tiers

He said that affordability in terms of 5G can be enabled much faster as compared to 4G.

Qualcomm is already been looking to drive affordability in its 5G segment. After bringing 5G to its 800, 700 and 600 series, the chipmaker is looking to expand 5G support to its lower tiers.

“We have already announced a 600 series phone. The OEM I was talking to, we're having a conversation of the launch of the device. If everything goes right, I might see a launch of a (phone) with 600 series which could be somewhere between ₹10,000 and ₹20,000 which could be a 5G phone by the end of the year itself from one or two brands,” Vagadia said.

“So we are on that track. Likewise, four series will follow. We have it on the roadmap for sure. But we have yet to talk to the OEMs in terms of what are their plans to bring it,” he further said.

“If you're investing in a phone, you always want to ensure that you're covered up for the future. And I think 5G will come gradually but it'll come faster than what we have already realized,” he added.

Setbacks due to Covid-19

Qualcomm’s strategy to expand the adoption of 5G phones could face setbacks owing to the Covid-19 pandemic which has negatively impacted the mobile industry.

On being asked whether the pandemic will lead to a further dip in sales and will hinder Qualcomm’s 5G push, Vagadia was rather optimistic about the industry coping with the pandemic’s impact.

The smartphone sales in India may see a dip for a certain amount of time. However, companies can leverage online platforms to push sales the Qualcomm India executive said.

“Smartphone numbers are going down. However, here the structure is a little bit different. I think we will not see the impact as bad as it was if we would have had the online-offline ratio, like the rest of the world, because of online being more proactive and prominent here,” Vagadia said.

“I think the OEMs are designing and being ready as manufacturing plants are also trying to ramp up supply is now becoming a little bit different, too, because factories have just started. They’re not to the optimized level, they will go back there in the next few weeks. So with all those parameters and uncertainty today, I may still say that it will be subdued from another month or two,” he further said.

The companies will cover up once the relaxation comes in, Vagadia said. “The moment you start seeing the relaxation coming in I think we shouldn't be going back to our original self. So we see a subdued number for sure of the world smartphone sold, right could be down by probably a few percentage points, it would be somewhere around less than 10 per cent. But there is a good chance we could cover-up,” he added.

Despite a setback from the pandemic, the tech giant is sticking to its original target for 5G phones. We still maintain and we still believe strongly that if we're given a projection that there will be approximately 200 billion of 5G phones in 2020 in the world, we will stick to that,” said Vagadia.