Qualcomm powers up 5G with the X60 modem – will it be inside the iPhone 5G?
Qualcomm has introduced its latest 5G modem. The X60 has several new smarts but more interesting is where it might end up – is this the modem inside the iPhone 5G?
Even if it isn’t, the fact is the Snapdragon X60 will power many people’s first 5G phone, sitting atop the current X50 and X55 modems.
The new modem enables networks to aggregate (combine) spectrum across both the faster mmWave (millimetre wave) 5G band as well as ‘sub-6’, basically giving you slower speeds but wider coverage.
UK 5G networks are using sub-6 (mid-band) bands at the moment, but plan to roll out mmWave in cities for higher-capacity coverage in 2020 or 2021. Many US cities already have mmWave networks but in limited areas, with other US towns and cities using lower-band 5G.
- Check out our guide to 5G
The new modem chip has also been developed on a smaller manufacturing process (5nm instead of 7nm) so it is much more power-efficient. There should be some positive effect on battery life but obviously that will depend on other aspects of the phone like screen size and refresh rate.
It’s also capable of some impressive download and upload speeds over 5G – 7.5Gbps down and 3Gbps up – though you’ll never recreate these outside of a lab, of course.
We’ve already reported this week how Apple was thinking about developing its own 5G antenna for the iPhone (it likes to develop its own hardware across the board these days) but it’s highly likely that it will use Qualcomm’s also-newly announced QTM535 antenna unit which is smaller and thinner than the older model.
Qualcomm wouldn’t be drawn on when we can expect to see the X60 inside smartphones at a briefing we attended, but the press release says we should expect to see it in “premium smartphones” in early 2021.
That still could peg it for the first 5G iPhone – while we expect that Apple will release iPhone 12 in September, it won’t release an iPhone 5G then unless it thinks the market is ready for it.