Qualcomm is wasting no time in advancing its 5G implementations for smartphone and PC platforms. The company's first-generation Snapdragon X50 modems are now shipping in the world's first 5G smartphones, and the company last week announced its second-generation Snapdragon X55, which will ship in devices next year.
However, while the Snapdragon X50 and X55 bring 5G wireless tech to those willing to absorb the initial price premium, they aren't optimum solutions. Today's current 4G LTE modems are integrated into the SoC (a la the Snapdragon 855), which is ideal for devices like smartphones. The Snapdragon X50 represents a second chip that not only draws additional power, but takes up valuable real estates on the PCB within a device.
To counter this, Qualcomm says that has developed a next-generation Snapdragon SoC that will integrate a 5G modem, just as its current solutions integrate 4G LTE connectivity. Given the highly integrated nature of this [unnamed] next-generation SoC, it should help to fuel the adoption of 5G devices – especially considering that Qualcomm has such a commanding share of the Android smartphone market.
Although Qualcomm is light on details at this moment, we’re assuming that this SoC with integrated 5G will first be available in a flagship product; perhaps a Snapdragon 865. Sometime later, we should expect 5G integration to filter down to mid-range and entry-level chipsets as carrier availability become ubiquitous.
“Our R&D and leading mobile platforms enable phone manufacturers to innovate and scale groundbreaking products globally,” said Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon. “The integration of our breakthrough 5G multimode modem and application processing technologies into a single SoC is a major step in making 5G more widely available across regions and tiers.
In the end, Qualcomm’s further integration will mean 5G-connected devices with better battery life and less of a price premium over 4G LTE counterparts. If wireless carriers’ promises of blazing fast 5G speeds and low latencies comes to fruition, we could see another big “super cycle” of upgrades in 2020, leading into 2021.
According to Qualcomm, its customers will receive the first samples of its Snapdragon 5G mobile platform during Q2 2019, and the first commercial smartphones will be available during the first half of 2020.