Qualcomm’s new cellular modems could finally take 5G mainstream

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Qualcomm headquarters
This could be the modem which appears in the 2020 iPhone.
Photo: Qualcomm

Qualcomm has announced its new Snapdragon X60 5G modem, its third-gen 5G chip which offers improvements over its Snapdragon X55 and X50 predecessors.

While there is no confirmation that this is the case, this could very well be the modem chip that is used in the forthcoming generation of 5G iPhones. Apple patched up its rocky relationship with Qualcomm last year over the company’s 5G technology.

Qualcomm notes that:

“Snapdragon X60 is the world’s first 5G modem-RF system based on the leading 5 nanometer process node so you can enjoy blazing fast 5G apps with support for all-day battery life. The tightly integrated, intelligent modem-RF system under the hood features an arsenal of advanced technologies designed to deliver cutting-edge data speeds, latency, coverage and battery life.”

The new modem promises the “world’s first solution for mmWave-sub6 aggregation. This should give it a maximum data volume of 5.5 Gbps. That mean unprecedented peak speeds, together with superior coverage from “a suite of advanced modem-RF technologies to enable wider, more reliable and stable indoor and outdoor 5G.”

Qualcomm also claims superior power efficiency and all-day battery life.

Qualcomm and its vaunted 5G tech

Apple and Qualcomm repaired their contentious relationship last year, meaning that Qualcomm can supply 5G chips for future iPhones. At the end of last year, Qualcomm’s president Cristiano Amon said that the two companies were working to develop a 5G handset “as fast as we can.”

As per the deal, Apple can use Qualcomm’s 5G chips for the next several years. Given that Qualcomm is unlikely to debut a new 5G chip before the iPhone 12 debuts in September, that suggests the Snapdragon X60 5G modem will be the chip Apple uses in its next-gen iPhone.

Longer term, Apple is looking to develop its own 5G modems. After Intel got out of the modem business, Apple scooped up Intel’s IP to start developing its own 5G chips in-house. However, those are unlikely to debut for a while — although Apple could create its own 5G antenna in the meantime.

Source: Qualcomm