Google will tap Samsung Electronics Co Ltd to supply a 5G modem for its next flagship smartphone, Pixel, signaling the Korean company's first victory in a US market dominated by Qualcomm Inc.
Earlier this month, Google revealed that it designed its own processor chip to power its new high-end Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro phones, ending its complete reliance on Qualcomm, which will continue to supply chips for the lower-priced Pixel 5A.
Two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that Samsung will also supply 5G modem technology.
Samsung's decision to provide Pixel modem technology is significant because the Korean company is one of only three companies in the world capable of manufacturing 5G modems that connect devices to wireless data networks. The others are Qualcomm, the market leader by a wide margin, and Taiwan's MediaTek Inc.
Samsung widely uses its Exynos modem technology extensively in its flagship smartphones in Asia and Europe. But it has long relied on Qualcomm to provide modems for the US versions.
This is partly because Qualcomm has pioneered a different type of 5G network called millimeter wave, which offers the fastest speeds available with newer networks. So far, every smartphone released in the US, including Apple Inc.'s iPhone, has used Qualcomm chips to take advantage of millimeter wave networks.
Samsung told that its new modem technology is capable of interconnecting millimeter wave networks, and Google said its new phones will support millimeter wave networks as it did with previous versions, though neither company will comment directly on whether they work together on the new Pixel.
Winning the Google Pixel business gives Samsung its first big chance to showcase its chip-making skills in the general phone industry, which has long been cautious about buying a key component from a competitor. fierce, said Kevin Krewell, principal analyst at TIRIAS Research. The Korean company has never sold its 5G modem chip technology to an outside company.
Qualcomm said in a statement that it retained its technology leadership because millimeter wave technology relies on chips other than the modem. Qualcomm said: "The modem is not enough to support millimeter wave in phones."
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