Qualcomm Launches Chip For 5G Smartphones

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But will Apple use it? New 5G modem chip to connect upcoming smartphones to 5G networks

Qualcomm has launched the second generation of its modem chips that will connect smartphones in the future to 5G networks around the world.

Qualcomm had released the first commercial 5G modem chipset way back in October 2016, but since that time a lot has changed, most notably the agreement of a 5G standard in mid 2018 by the 3GPP – the international group that governs cellular standards.

Into this brave new world the new Qualcomm 5G chip is being touted as the “world’s most advanced commercial multimode 5G modem” that will help accelerate the 5G rollout around the world.

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5G modem

The second-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 5G modem will support all major spectrum types and bands.

Essentially, the Snapdragon X55 is a 7-nanometre single-chip integrated 5G to 2G multimode modem. According to Qualcomm it supports 5G NR mmWave and sub-6 GHz spectrum bands with up to 7 gigabits per second (Gbps) download speeds and 3 Gbps upload speeds over 5G, and Category 22 LTE with up to 2.5 Gbps LTE download speeds.

“The Snapdragon X55 5G modem is designed for global 5G rollouts with support for all major frequency bands, whether mmWave or sub-6 GHz, supports TDD and FDD modes of operations and is capable of both Standalone (SA) and non-standalone (NSA) network deployments,” said the firm.

Qualcomm says the Snapdragon X55 modem is suited both for deployments in greenfield frequency bands allocated for 5G, but is also designed to support spectrum sharing between 4G and 5G. This flexibility will help operators “accelerate 5G deployments by using their existing 4G spectrum holdings to deliver both 4G & 5G services dynamically.”

“Qualcomm Technologies is spearheading the first wave of 5G launches with our first generation 5G mobile platform,” said Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm president.

“With significant evolution in capabilities and performance, our second generation commercial 5G modem is a true testament to the maturity and leadership of our 5G technology,” Amon added. “We expect our 5G platform to accelerate 5G commercial momentum and power virtually all 5G launches in 2019 while significantly expanding the global 5G rollout footprint.”

Qualcomm said the Snapdragon X55 is currently sampling to customers and is expected to be in commercial devices by late 2019. Samsung has announced its new flagship Galaxy series phones will carry the Qualcomm chip.

5G competition

But Qualcomm will find it is not alone in this market. Last month Huawei launched a 5G modem chip for use in its smartphones.

The Chinese firm is already the world’s third-largest smart phone maker, and Qualcomm is unlikely to score a customer in Apple, given their current bitter legal battle.

And it should be remembered that Samsung also has a 5G modem dubbed the Exynos 5100. This chip is expected to be found in many Samsung devices sold outside the United States.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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