- MediaTek has announced the Helio M80 modem.
- This is the companyâ€™s first mmWave-capable modem.
MediaTek debuted its first 5G modem, dubbed the Helio M70, in last yearâ€™s Dimensity 1000 series of processors. The modem supports the dominant sub-6GHz flavor of 5G but missed out on the faster, more temperamental mmWave 5G standard.
Now, MediaTek has finally revealed the Helio M80, and itâ€™s indeed the companyâ€™s first 5G modem to support mmWave connectivity with up to eight component carriers (8CC). The firmâ€™s new modem offers downlink speeds of up to 7.67Gbps, while uplink speeds top out at 3.76Gbps. That represents a pretty hefty increase over the predecessorâ€™s 4.7Gbps and 2.5Gbps speeds respectively.
Otherwise, the new modem still offers sub-6GHz connectivity with â€œmore than two carrier aggregation,â€� 5G+5G dual SIM connectivity, NSA and SA support, dual 5G NSA and SA, dual VoNR support, and Cat-19 LTE downlink capabilities (with 5CC).
MediaTek is also touting a variety of extra features, such as UltraSave tech for improved power efficiency. So hopefully 5G power consumption is kept in check compared to 4G connectivity.
More reading: Hereâ€™s whatâ€™s coming next for 5G in 2021
Unfortunately, it doesnâ€™t sound like we should expect the new modem anytime soon. MediaTek says the Helio M80 will be sampled to customers â€œlater in 2021,â€� suggesting that the first MediaTek-powered phones with mmWave support will arrive at the end of the year or in 2022.
Nevertheless, the move means that the Taiwanese chip company will finally have a mmWave option for smartphone manufacturers. This is particularly important in the likes of the US, where mmWave has been rolled out by the likes of Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T alongside sub-6GHz coverage.
mmWave components also tend to add a substantial amount to a smartphoneâ€™s bill of materials compared to sub-6GHz and 4G connectivity, but MediaTek has a reputation for delivering cheaper chips in general. So hopefully the modem means we can expect cheaper mmWave phones as a result too.