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Snapdragon X55 Modem Hits 7Gbps

March 5, 2019

Author: Linley Gwennap

Before even the first 5G phones roll out, Qualcomm is already preparing its second-generation 5G modem. The new Snapdragon X55 pushes the maximum data rate to 7Gbps, far beyond the top speed of LTE phones. More importantly, however, it expands the features to support a broader range of networks, including both TDD and FDD modes as well as both standalone and non-standalone modes. The new modem also allows operators to implement 4G and 5G on the same frequencies, a boon to operators that lack enough spectrum above 2.5GHz.

Qualcomm enhanced and expanded its 5G RF chips as well. Its second-generation millimeter-wave (mmWave) front end enables thinner phones and covers more bands than the original. The company also introduced its first 5G envelope tracker and first 5G antenna tuner. These components reduce power and improve signal strength. Qualcomm offers additional RF components through its joint venture with TDK.

The cellular industry is working feverishly to deploy commercial 5G service and smartphones. More than 20 operators around the world expect to test or launch commercial service this year. Huawei, LG, Samsung, Xiaomi, ZTE, and others announced 5G phones at the recent Mobile World Congress. All except Huawei’s Mate X use Qualcomm’s first-generation X50 modem chip.

Qualcomm will also integrate the 5G modem in future SoCs. We expect the company’s next-generation premium-smartphone processor (presumably called the Snapdragon 865) to integrate the X55 modem. This SoC could reuse the transceiver and other RF components from the X55 platform, although these components will add to the cost of second-generation 5G phones.

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