Qualcomm’s Next 5G Modem to Hit 7 Gbps Download Speeds

Posted on February 19, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Hardware, Mobile with 8 Comments

Qualcomm today announced its next 5G-capable modem, which will debut in 2020 and hit download speeds of 7 Gbps. That’s a nearly 30 percent performance improvement over its predecessor, which maxes out at 5 Gbps.

“Qualcomm is spearheading the first wave of 5G launches with our first generation 5G mobile platform” a statement credited to Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon says. “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. We expect our 5G platform to accelerate 5G commercial momentum and power virtually all 5G launches in 2019 while significantly expanding the global 5G rollout footprint.”

As the world’s biggest maker of mobile chipsets, Qualcomm is hoping that the 5G wave will cement its dominance, and it has aggressively pushed its 5G chipset capabilities since late 2017. But this year marks the first time that its handset maker partners will actually start delivering 5G-capable silicon in their products. And that means it’s time for the 5G marketing promises to confront reality.

Qualcomm’s first 5G-capable modem, the Snapdragon X50, is capable of 5 Gbps peak download speeds, but it has limited 5G network support and needs to be paired with a Snapdragon processor that has built-in Gigabit LTE capabilities. But the second-generation Snapdragon X55 that Qualcomm announced today is a big step up. It supports 7 Gbps peak download speeds and 3 Gbps upload speeds over 5G and has integrated Category 22 Gigabit LTE capabilities with 2.5 Gbps download speeds.

And with its broader compatibility—it supports all major 5G frequency bands—the X55 is Qualcomm’s first 5G modem ready for a global rollout. Qualcomm says the X55 and supporting chipsets are designed for a wide range of device types, too, including premium smartphones, mobile hotspots, Always Connected PCs, laptops, tablets, fixed wireless access points, extended reality devices, and automotive applications.

That said, it’s unlikely we’ll see any major device releases with integrated X55 support until 2020. So all of the flagship smartphones announced this month—Samsung’s new Galaxy S10 family tomorrow and then a slew of other handsets at Mobile World Congress next week—will all utilize LTE-only chipsets or perhaps the Snapdragon X50 instead. (Given the current legal drama between Apple and Qualcomm, it’s likely that the next iPhone lineup will use even slower Intel parts.)

Of course, even at 7 Gbps, the X55 falls well short of the ultimate promise of 5G networking, which Qualcomm says will hit 20 Gbps peak download speeds by the time it’s fully realized worldwide in the next several years. We’ll be living in the LTE world—and the sub-LTE world—for many years to come.

Tagged with ,

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (8)

8 responses to “Qualcomm’s Next 5G Modem to Hit 7 Gbps Download Speeds”

  1. mattbg

    I think most people would be happy if they got 25% of the 2.5Gbps that the diagram suggests the 4G we've had for years is capable of.

    I'd be happy if I got that at home from 802.11ac.

    You need 0.01Gbps to sustain an HD video stream.

    Nobody seems to know why they need 5G.

    • IanYates82

      In reply to mattbg:

      Forget the headline number since that's all theory, as you say. The big thing is better handling of many devices in a small area. Same goes for the next WiFi standard (number 6,or 802.11ax)

      • mattbg

        In reply to IanYates82:

        That would be a genuine improvement but that does not seem to be what people are excited about.

        It’s almost like you have to keep banging on about speeds that are 200x faster than most people really need so that you can shoehorn the real improvements through the back door ?

  2. provision l-3

    "Qualcomm is hoping that the 5G wave will cement its dominance"

    It isn't 5G that will make or break Qualcomm's dominance it's the upcoming anti-trust ruling in the Northern District of California and the E.U. anti-trust investigation.

  3. locust infested orchard inc

    LTE with 4x4 MIMO and Cat-16 modems is more than ample for just about everyone. So 5G is meh.

    Come 2030, 6G (often referred to as 5G LTE) with terabit-per-second data transfer and microsecond latency is what 5G really should have been.

    Concerning Apple's bedfellow Intel, it's 5G modem – the XMM 8160 – is slower than Qualcomm's. So all forthcoming iPharces shall not only be iNotches, but iSlow too.

    Only the iSheeple can understand the logic behind purchasing an iNotch that is both iSlow and iExorbitantlyPriced.

  4. MutualCore

    These speeds will never be attainable in real life, even if you put 5G repeaters on every block.

  5. gvan

    Speeds like that are likely to create long term health problems. More study is needed before rollout. Who wants to volunteer to be a test subject? HeHeHe...

  6. wocowboy

    I guess this means that the top-end 14 Mbps I can get today from any of the providers that are available at my location might go up to 16 Mbps in a 2020 model phone that I might purchase that contains these chips? These wild shoot-the-moon data rate claims make me laugh, as NO carrier, not even one, and not even in the most densely populated cities in the US, nor anywhere in the rest of America, has ever built the capability for that type of data delivery, nor even the top-end capability of any "G" of technology. Not 2G, not 3G, not 4G, and not LTE. And probably never will. Their track record of the past 20 years or so does not inspire any confidence at all.