Qualcomm has been busy, and they’ve got some new tricks to show for it. While the Snapdragon CPUs are a big deal for the company, it’s important to remember Qualcomm is a networking company at heart, which brings us to their first ever 5G modem, called the Snapdragon X50 5G.
This marks the first actual 5G equipment we’ve seen yet, which should help solidify a path for other OEMs to follow instead of the current vague idea of 5G we’ve been dealing with. Obviously carriers will need to upgrade to 5G networks for anyone to actually need the X50, but it’s good that the equipment is there.
The modem is capable of hitting download speeds of up to 5 gigabits per second, which is pretty insane when you consider we’re all fighting over who can get gigabit speeds out to people on a fiber network.
The technology in the modem is impressive in itself, with a ton of homegrown solutions to the drawbacks of the mmWave spectrum that are necessary to get those crazy fast speeds. The X50 can, for example, intelligently direct energy from an mmWave beam to reach the small that it’s communicating with, which is an incredibly advanced use of beamforming technology.
If you remember the days of the big carriers transitioning from 3G to 4G networks, you’ll probably remember how spotty LTE coverage was at first and how necessary it was to have a fallback plan when your phone left 4G coverage. The downside to that is that going from 4G back down to 3G really sucked. Qualcomm’s solution to handle this fallback gracefully was to build a Gigabit Class LTE modem for the X50 to rely on when it doesn’t have 5G availability.
Yep, not only did Qualcomm announce an incredibly fast 5G modem, but they’ve also announced the X16 LTE modem to help our current devices reach ridiculously fast (theoretical) speeds. The X16 will serve as a fallback to the X50 and can hit speeds of up to 1 gigabit, which is still plenty fast for most applications.
The X16 LTE modem will be available in the next 800-series Snapdragon phones, so there’s a realistic chance you’ll be able to buy one next year. The X50, on the other hand, will be sampled in the second half of 2017 with an expected integration into products in 2018. Now we just have to wait for the networks to catch up.
source: Snapdragon X50