Ahead of the official opening of MWC 2019, Qualcomm has made a number of 5G-related announcements this week and chief among them is the introduction of the new Snapdragon X55 5G modem to the market.
This is a modem which will look to modernize the 5G rollout by bringing together various technology developments into one chip for device-makers to include and offering consumers a product that's better able to utilize 5G networks.
This Snapdragon X55 a 7nm chip and most likely the big selling point is that it is able to connect to just about every network band possible and draw on different spectrum when needed to improve the experience. For example, this is neither a dedicated 4G LTE or 5G chip, but instead one that can and will utilize both generational solutions.
In fact, it is backwards compatible with all generational networks to the point where it can be used as a 5G modem, or if needed even a 2G modem. This also applies to any region with Qualcomm positioning the Snapdragon X55 as an ‘any band, any region’ solution. Qualcomm claims the the Snapdragon X55 supports up to 7 Gbps download speeds and 3 Gbps upload speeds over 5G. While improvements on the LTE side are said to result in support for up to 2.5 Gbps download speeds.
The wide band support coupled with the equally-wide regional support is something Qualcomm believes will help to facilitate the 5G rollout not just on the US level, but globally.
Devices loaded with this modem will be able to dynamically switch between all bands and used with both standalone and non-standalone networks. This in turn should make it easier for device users to be provided with the best connection experience possible and irrespective of the current deployment state of 5G within a given area - or whether a 5G service is bolstered in a location by 4G. The idea being the experience at the user level will be seamless in spite of the likelihood of the signal bouncing between networks.
From the user perspective, the use of the Snapdragon X55 has also been designed to expand network capacity and efficiency. In other words, users can expect devices running on the Snapdragon X55 to be better able to handle a greater data load which in turn should equate to the receipt of larger data loads, faster.
This is in addition to an improved ability to utilize beamforming so data is not only moving at a greater rate than ever before, but also in the specific direction needed by users. An aspect which further helps to provide a more efficient connection in general.
Although 5G has yet to hit the mainstream, one of the individual selling points that Qualcomm always draws on is its experience in the market. It is no different with the Snapdragon X55 as this is not the first 5G modem the company has released so far. Back in late 2017, Qualcomm debuted the Snapdragon X50, branded as the ‘world’s first 5G modem for smartphones.’
Therefore the Snapdragon X55 in itself is not designed to spearhead a new product category and is more reflective of the developments and improvements the company has made over the past couple of years. Furthermore, the Snapdragon X55 is best utilized when coupled with the other 5G-related advancements Qualcomm has made recently. For example, the company also announced a new 5G RFFE solution today and Qualcomm argues the best experience possible is when the Snapdragon X55 is used in conjunction with the new RFFE solution.
The modem and RFFE solution are now being positioning as Qualcomm's complete 5G modem-to-antenna package and when adopted together at the OEM level it's expected to make it easier for device-makers to accelerate the speed at which products can be launched to market.
Qualcomm has confirmed the Snapdragon X55 is already being sampled out to OEMs and is expected to arrive in device form in late 2019.