For those who are unfamiliar, not all 5G is equal. Right now, in its current iteration, there exists two subsets of 5G – mmWave and sub-6GHz. The former offers the fastest speeds possible, while the latter is slower (albeit still faster than LTE). The main difference is that mmWave has a shorter range, while sub-6GHz has a wider range, which is better is terms of providing coverage.
This means that right now, some phones might come with support for mmWave, and some might support sub-6GHz, but this isn’t always made obvious by the manufacturer. To help clear up that confusion and give users the best of both worlds, MediaTek has since announced its new 5G modem, the MediaTek M80.
This is a new 5G modem from the Chinese company that will support both mmWave and sub-6GHz in a single chip. What this means for phones is that depending on your carrier and also the availability, it should in theory be able to switch between either connection type to provide users with the best possible connection that’s available to them right now.
You could think of it being similar to WiFi routers that can support both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, and will switch between them depending on how far you are from the router.
MediaTek isn’t the first company to roll out a modem like this. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50 and the more recent Snapdragon X55 both support mmWave and sub-6GHz, but the launch of this modem means that MediaTek will be in a better position to compete with Qualcomm.
The company has not stated which phones or brands will be adopting its new M80 modem, but the company’s chipsets tend to find their way into more affordable devices, so it could be something to look forward to for shoppers on a budget.