Qualcomm targets China, emerging markets with new lower-end Snapdragon chips

The new chips offer support for TD-SCDMA networks, a 3G technology used in China

Chip maker Qualcomm is introducing six new processors meant for entry-level phones in China and emerging markets.

The processors are part of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 200 class, a chip line that offers support for lower-end specs compared to the company's Snapdragon 400, 600 and 800 chip series, the company said Thursday.

The six new processors lack support for 4G LTE, but are built for HSPA+ networks, and TD-SCDMA (Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access), a 3G standard used by China's largest mobile carrier, China Mobile.

The Qualcomm chips will be available to vendors in late 2013. The new processors are built using a 28-nanometer manufacturing process, and feature dual and quad-core CPUs. The chips also have support to handle two, or even three SIM cards, a feature that is popular with consumers in Asia.

The U.S. company has been increasingly releasing new processors that work with China's TD-SCDMA network, a 3G technology not widely used outside the country. China Mobile has over 700 million customers, and has recently been subsidizing handset makers to release more TD-SCDMA handsets, according to Teck Zhung Wong, an analyst with research firm IDC.

In this year's first quarter, shipments of TD-SCDMA smartphones to the Chinese market reached 28 million units, up 390 percent year-over-year, according to IDC. 80 percent of those phones were considered low end and cost consumers under US$200, Wong said.

Manufacturers of lower-end TD-SCDMA phones include Chinese handset makers Lenovo, ZTE and Yulong Computer Telecommunication Scientific, which brands its handsets under the Coolpad name.

China currently ranks as the world's largest smartphone market in the world, making it a crucial country for Qualcomm to expand in. But the company faces competition from Taiwanese chip maker MediaTek, which has also been targeting the Chinese market with new mobile processors.

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