QUALCOMM HAS TAKEN the covers off its next-generation 5G modem, the Snapdragon X55, which promises to help usher in widespread 5G connectivity come 2020.
On the surface, the 7-nanometre node chip is but a small upgrade of the Snapdragon X50 modem chip that's 5G ready and can be expected to pop up in the next wave of smartphones set to be launched at MWC next week.
But the Snapdragon X55 offers some key upgrades over its predecessor, notably support for both sub-6 GHz and 5G New Radio millimetre wave (mmWave) bands.
It's also been designed to run on standalone 5G networks, to enable the creation of devices that only tap into 5G, as well as support for non-standalone network deployments that allow smartphones and other devices to use 4G and 5G connections at the same time.
Then there's support for dynamic spectrum sharing, which allows for mobile network operators to tap into 5G by using their existing 4G spectrum to deliver both 4G and 5G services in a flexible fashion.
Furthermore, the new modem chip will also pair with Qualcomm's new QTM525 5G mmWave antenna module, which has been designed to pack in 5G antennas into slim and compact smartphones, where previously it was thought that having effective 5G antennas would need a chunky phone.
The chip will also work with a suite of other antenna modules that can adaptively tune the antennas for the best connection and can track the power needed to ensure that a 5G connection is delivered in poor coverage areas without sucking up all of a phone's electrical juice.
Basically, Qualcomm has a load of 5G-centric stuff at the moment, which when 5G rollout gets underway this year should promise 7Gbps download speeds and 3Gbps upload speeds.
That means better content streaming, online gaming, smart AI-powered features, and other good stuff when you're out and about and away from a decent Wi-Fi connection.
But there is a bit of a kicker here. The Snapdragon X55 won't arrive with phone until the end of 2019, which means a lot of 5G phones will come using a combination of, say, the Snapdragon 855 SoC with the Snapdragon X50 modem chip.
That'll deliver some solid 5G connectivity and capabilities, but there's an argument that you might be better off holding out for a 2020 5G phone, whereby flagship Android phones at least will tap into Qualcomm's top-end modem chip. µ
'Some of us like the misery'
That'll surely affect its credit score