MediaTek Helio M80
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • MediaTek has announced the Helio M80 modem.
  • This is the company’s first mmWave-capable modem.

MediaTek debuted its first 5G modem, dubbed the Helio M70, in last year’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 it’s indeed the company’s first 5G modem to support mmWave connectivity with up to eight component carriers (8CC). The firm’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 predecessor’s 4.7Gbps and 2.5Gbps speeds respectively.

Otherwise, the new modem still offers sub-6GHz connectivity with “more than two carrier aggregation,” 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: Here’s what’s coming next for 5G in 2021

Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like we should expect the new modem anytime soon. MediaTek says the Helio M80 will be sampled to customers “later in 2021,” 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 smartphone’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.