Qualcomm announces new 5G X60 Modem

We’ve barely seen many new smartphones adopt Qualcomm’s X55 modem. Yet, the company recently announced the Snapdragon X60 Modem-RF System. Qualcomm promises better efficiency, more reliability and faster-sustained network speeds.

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The Snapdragon X60 Modem-RF System is Qualcomm’s third 5G system after the X50 and X55 modems. The new system is a combination of the X60 modem and a new antenna. The modem is designed on a new 5nm process, down from the 7nm used on the X55 in Samsung’s S20 series. The tinier manufacturing process will improve device battery life compared to the older chips. Additionally, the X60 modem is smaller than its predecessors, thanks to the new 5nm process.

Alongside the new Snapdragon X60 modem is the new QTM535 antenna. According to Qualcomm, the new antenna array is smaller than the QTM525 used with the X55. Slimmer devices will benefit from the more minuscule sizes of the modem and antenna.

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Another feature of the new X60 modem is aggregation with mmWave (Millimetre Waves) and sub-6GHz technologies. So, devices with an X60 RF System can use both mmWave and sub-6GHZ spectrum at once, creating a more reliable, fast connection to networks. That’s helpful as millimetre waves don’t travel far distances or penetrate objects well. That’s one reason your microwave doesn’t pass the glass and cook you along with the food.

Also, the new modem supports making voice calls over 5G. Although 5G voice calling is a great addition, it is more of a future-proofing measure. 5G is still young, and many 5G networks rely on existing 4G technology.

As it relates to overall specs, the X60 isn’t much different from the X55 before it. It has the same impressive 7.5 Gbps download speeds coupled with 3 Gbps peak uploads. It is, of course, compatible with existing 4G LTE as is the X55. 

Qualcomm is a global leader in mobile computing and communications technology. Their chip powered the first Android phone. Today, Qualcomm chips are ubiquitous in the smartphone space. We do wonder if Qualcomm will integrate the X60 into its next processor system or have an external chip like the Snapdragon 865.

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The recently launched Samsung Galaxy S20 series of phones are powered by either a Snapdragon 865 or Exynos 990 chipset.

If the chip isn’t baked into the next Snapdragon processor, it could be in the upcoming iPhones. With Apple and Qualcomm ending their long legal battles and striking a deal, it’s quite likely the next iPhones will have Qualcomm modems and antennas.

All the technologies as mentioned above, sound great, but the X60 is ahead of current mobile networks. Most 5G networks around the world are still very young with expected developments in 2020 and beyond. It may be a long time until we’re all downloading files at multi-gigabit speeds.

The X60 represents Qualcomm’s forward-thinking. Plus, they’ll make a boatload of cash from being one of the only companies selling 5G modems. It may seem as if Qualcomm is cannibalising the X55 modem sales. But we probably won’t see any X60 modems in smartphones until late 2020 into 2021.

In any case, Qualcomm is ready for the future.