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Qualcomm reveals new Snapdragon X55 modem to accelerate the viability of 5G

Published Feb 19th, 2019 4:38PM EST
Qualcomm X55 modem
Image: DENIS POROY/AP/REX/Shutterstock

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Qualcomm Inc. president Cristiano Amon said today he thinks the new Snapdragon X55 modem his company has just announced will, among other things, help accelerate the commercial momentum of 5G technology and “power virtually all 5G launches in 2019” as the technology continues to roll out globally.

Qualcomm announced the first details of the X55 today, noting that it will enable operators to accelerate 5G deployments when the modem starts shipping toward the end of this year. Among the other details, the X55 is a second-generation 5G New Radio modem that supports download speeds of up to 7 gigabits per second and 3 Gbps upload speeds over 5G, according to the company.

Qualcomm adds in its announcement today that the X55 is designed for global 5G rollouts with support for all major frequency bands, in addition to being engineered to support dynamic spectrum sharing between 4G and 5G. “Qualcomm Technologies is spearheading the first wave of 5G launches with our first generation 5G mobile platform,” Amon said about today’s news. “With significant evolution in capabilities and performance, our second generation commercial 5G modem is a true testament to the maturity and leadership of our 5G technology.”

At this point, Qualcomm is touting “late 2019” as the earliest the modem will be shipping in commercial devices. This new modem is the first, according to Qualcomm, to support 100 MHz envelope tracking technology and is designed for “power-efficient connectivity” for the next generation of smartphones and mobile devices. “Our comprehensive modem-to-antenna solution,” the company says, “is designed to enable OEMs to quickly and cost-effectively develop complex 5G multimode smartphones and mobile devices for virtually any 5G network or region in the world. This can allow consumers to enjoy fiber-like browsing speeds and low latency, delivered wirelessly over 5G, for the next generation of connected applications and experiences.”

The latter is a reference to everything from connected cloud computing to multiplayer gaming, immersive 360-degree video and more.

Having said all this, buying a phone with a 5G modem will still arguably be more of an interesting proposition than something practical for many people for a while longer. Everyone is racing to be the first to announce something in this regard, but it’s worth noting that the first 5G phones aren’t even a reality yet (that will presumably happen later this year) while Qualcomm is already pegging this as a second-gen 5G modem. Which is to say, the 5G war continues to heat up — a war involving technology, as much as it is a war of words among marketing pros.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.