Qualcomm has introduced its X60 modem. The Snapdragon X60 will power first 5G phone taking over the current X50 and X55 modems.
The upgrade comes earlier even before carriers around start enrolling to 5G.
The chipsets will be rolled out in premium smartphones in early 2021.
The new modem enables networks to aggregate spectrum across both the faster mmWave 5G band as well as ‘sub-6’. This will basically give you slower speeds but wider coverage.
The new modem chip has also been developed on a smaller manufacturing process (5nm instead of 7nm) so it is much more power-efficient. There should be some positive effect on battery life but obviously that will depend on other aspects of the phone like screen size and refresh rate.
It’s also capable of some impressive download and upload speeds over 5G – 7.5Gbps down and 3Gbps up – though you’ll never recreate this outside of a lab, of course.
Already, UK 5G networks are using sub-6 bands at the moment, but plan to roll out mmWave in cities for higher-capacity coverage in 2020 or 2021.
Many US cities already have mmWave networks but in limited areas, with other US towns and cities using lower-band 5G.
Qualcomm X60 Modem Performance
For average end-users, the new X-series modem lifts the performance floor for global 5G networks. The X60 supports mmWave-sub 6 GHz aggregation, which should allow carriers to bolster 5G service across the spectrum that may not be fully utilized yet.
For mmWave support specifically, the X60 uses the QTM535 module. Like the X60, the QTM535 is the third-generation module in its line, and its main draw is that it’s smaller than the modules that came before. A smaller footprint, in turn, means slimmer or smaller devices.
The X60 also supports frequency division duplex (FDD) and time division duplex (TDD) band types and Dynamic Spectrum Sharing. All of these features essentially mean that the X60 casts a wide net in terms of supporting mmWave, mid-band, and low-band frequencies, with the goal of making the transition between 5G non-standalone and 5G standalone smoother when the time comes.
In addition to the X60, Qualcomm also comes with a new type of radio frequency filter UltraSAW. It offers more performance than bulk-acoustic (BAW) filters operating in the same range – 600 MHz to 2.7 GHz.
UltraSAW offers as much as a 1-decibel improvement over BAW filters, which potentially will allow for “more power-efficient RF paths in 5G and 4G multimode mobile devices.