Last year Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon X50 5G modem. The modem has yet to find its way into our smartphones, but it seems that in a bid to stay ahead of the competition and to get the ball rolling on 2020’s smartphones, Qualcomm has recently announced their second-gen 5G modem: the Snapdragon X55.
Some of the changes that Qualcomm will be making to the X55 over the X50 is the inclusion of a new 5G mmWave RF antenna called the QTM525. This will replace the QTM502 found in the X50, which should help make the modem not only smaller but also 40% faster. Of course, speed is relative and other factors do come into play, such as network congestion, signal strength, and so on, but on paper it should be an improvement over the X50 all the same.
As for its availability, Qualcomm says that its X55 modem will not be out until the latter part of the year, which means that chances are we will only be able to expect to see them in phones come 2020, so don’t expect to see the X55 in any of this year’s flagship phones for now. That being said, it will be interesting to see how 5G affects the battery life on our smartphones, and whether or not it will prove to be a huge battery drain like LTE was back in the day.
The implementation of 5G is very different from 4G LTE which relies on a single chip design with the modem integrated onto a single piece of silicon. This is versus 5G which requires a separate 5G modem in addition to the SoC, plus RF antenna modules, all of which could affect the internal design of a smartphone and impact battery performance as well. This is also why we’re seeing many smartphone makers opt to launch a separate 5G handset instead of building it into their flagships.