Qualcomm on 8th Feb announced a tie-up with some major smartphone and telecom hardware makers for commitments to use its next major cellular modem product, the X50, which will support the next-generation 5G technology. As we reported last year, the company had successfully completed its test of X50 5G modem chipset.
The announcement came at its 5G Day event this week that it’s already working with a variety of phone manufacturers to release devices with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50 5G NR modems in 2019. The list includes HTC, LG, Sony, HMD Global (Nokia-branded phones), Oppo, Sharp, Vivo, Xiaomi, Asus, Wingtech, and ZTE. Telecomm and network hardware makers such as Fujitsu Connected Technologies Limited, Inseego/Novatel Wireless, NetComm Wireless, NETGEAR, Sierra Wireless, Telit, and WNC will also use the X50 modem in their products.
Although it comes as a surprise, that tech giant, Samsung is missing the list. Samsung uses Qualcomm processors in its smartphones in the U.S. and other markets. Last week, Qualcomm did announce it is working in partnership with Samsung “in various technology areas and across a range of mobile devices”, but it did not specifically mention Samsung using the X50 modem in its products. Huawei is also not on today’s list, tending to use its own Kirin processors worldwide already, and holds a huge number of 5G patents themselves. They will be in fierce technical competition with Qualcomm.
The increased bandwidth of 5G will make the Snapdragon X50 5G NR family suitable for a number of applications including smartphones, always-connected PCs (like Windows 10 on Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile PC Platform), wireless head-mounted display (HMDs), and mobile broadband that delivers fiber-class speed.
Other key areas of opportunity include industrial real-time communications, safety communications networks, and wireless connectivity for Level 5 autonomous driving — all of these use cases would be optimized with 5G’s ultra-reliable, ultra-low latency (think 1 to 2ms) communication technologies. In fact, its low latency and capacity advantages will create new business models for many companies and in varied industries.
Speaking of the end user deployment, it is still largely unknown when the X50 will debut on a device. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC will come equipped with a Snapdragon X20 LTE modem and therefore the further afield expectation is the X50 will be included on the next-generation Snapdragon SoC – due for commercial release in 2019. An expectation further backed up by Qualcomm’s general assertion that 5G-enabled smartphones will arrive at market in 2019.