So far, most major smartphone companies haven’t yet released any 5G handsets, though they’re certainly on the docket. Behind most of these device’s 5G connection will be Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50, though at the rate the company is developing 5G tech, that modem may be outdated before it’s even put to use.
On Feb 19 Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon X55, the second-gen X50.
The new modem was designed with device flexibility in mind potentially bringing a 5G connection not only to premium smartphones and mobile hotspots, but also to “Always Connected PCs, laptops, tablets, fixed wireless access points, extended reality devices, and automotive applications”. That means your car, too, could be connected to the new standard sooner rather than later.
Already, Qualcomm has been able to vamp up the speed of the modem with download speeds of 7 gigabits per second from 5 gigabits as well as increase the power-efficiency – this, in particular, is an incredibly useful upgrade since these modems require so much energy to work; perhaps, 5G phones will be able to shrink back down to handheld sizes when this chip is used, and huge batteries are no longer required.
Intel, on the other hand, is struggling to release its second-generation 5G modem. The Intel XMM 816 isn’t expected to launch until the second half of this year with devices (like the first 5G iPhone) using the chip arriving in early 2020. It’s expected to have peak download speeds of 6 gigabits per second and be compatible with a wide range of devices as announced in November, but already, that seems like old news compared with the X55.
Qualcomm’s X55 modem is already being sampled by potential customers, and you can expect to find the chips in commercial devices by the end of this year.