Qualcomm has unveiled the Snapdragon X50, describing it as the ‘world’s first’ 5G modem for smartphones that will be capable of handling download speeds up to 5Gbps.
The company said that the Snapdragon X50 can achieve speeds almost 400 times faster than the current average 4G download speed of 13.5Mbps as it uses very wide bandwidths available in the next-generation 28GHz millimetre wave (mmWave) band combined with advanced signal processing technologies.
The Snapdragon X50 will support Multiple-Input Multiple-Output antenna arrays and adaptive beamforming and beam tracking techniques, which Qualcomm explained extends mmWave’s mobility and reach to non-line-of-sight situations.
"For example, the Snapdragon X50 5G modem can direct the energy of the mmWave beam, bouncing off obstacles to reach the mmWave 5G small cell with which it is communicating," the firm said.
Cristiano Amon, executive vice president at Qualcomm, added: "The Snapdragon X50 5G modem heralds the arrival of 5G as operators and OEMs reach the cellular network and device testing phase.
"Using our long history of LTE and WiFi leadership, we are thrilled to deliver a product that will help play a critical role in bringing 5G devices and networks to reality. This shows that we’re not just talking about 5G, we’re truly committed to it."
Like the Snapdragon X16 announced earlier this year, the X50 can seamlessly switch between 5G and Gigabit LTE, so long as it's paired with a Snapdragon processor with an integrated Gigabit LTE modem
Qualcomm plans to send samples of the new chip to smartphone manufacturers by the end of next year, and they should start appearing on the market in 2018.
However, Qualcomm has been keen to point out that the X50 modem is designed for early, probably experimental, 5G deployments, so the chip is unlikely to power 2018’s smartphone devices.
Qualcomm also announced three new mid-range processors: the Snapdragon 653, 626 and 627. The trio, aimed at "high volume mobile devices", offers support for Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 technology, download speeds up to 300Mbps and dual camera set-ups.
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