Qualcomm Technologies has announced the 5G RF modem Snapdragon X60, the third generation of its 5G modem-to-antenna solution. The manufacturer reports that Snapdragon X60 is characterized by the first 5G baseband built with 5 nanometer technology (against the 7 nm of the X55) and represents the world's first 5G RF-modem system to support spectrum aggregation between all major 5G bands and their combinations, including mmWave and sub-6 via duplex frequency division (FDD) and duplex time division (TDD), offering operators flexibility to maximize 5G performance using spectrum fragmentation assets.
The manufacturer claims that this 5G modem-to-antenna solution developed to enhance performance by increasing the average speed of 5G on mobile devices, accelerating the transition of the network towards standalone 5G mode thanks to the support of any other spectrum band, mode or combination , along with 5G Voice-over-NR (VoNR) capabilities.
In support of the third generation 5G modem, Qualcomm has provided a new antenna module (QTM535) smaller and more efficient than the current one (QTM525).
Apple is, however, evaluating the pros and cons of integrating Qualcomm antennas into the next iPhone, which apparently would make the device slightly thicker. However, there is little chance that Apple will exploit the Snapdragon X60: TSMC not fully ready for large-scale production with 5nm FinFET (5N) technology and Qualcomm itself talks about integration into premium smartphones that will be presented in 2021. So far the most advances indicate that this year's iPhone 12 5G will employ the previous Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 modem chip.
Keeping in mind specifications and timing it is more likely that the Qualcomm Snapdragon X60 can be used in the iPhones of 2021, as well as in the top of the range Android next year. For some time, the multinational company from Cupertino has been designing a proprietary chip modem, an operation that requires significant investments, specialized engineers and also long development and test times with networks all over the world. Although Cupertino's acquisition of Intel's modem chip division can speed up operations, it is estimated that this component will still take time to complete: until then Apple will continue to use Qualcomm modem chips. According to some, the first Apple modem chip will arrive in 2021, according to others instead at least in 2022 or perhaps even later.
Qualcomm also announced the filter technology ultraSAW, innovation defined as "revolutionary" which adds to the company's portfolio of wireless technologies, capable of enabling new experiences and expanding the mobile ecosystem. According to the manufacturer, the technology in question allows to significantly improve the performance of the radio frequency in the bands up to 2.7 GHz by overcoming the competing technologies at lower costs.
In December of the last year Qualcomm announced that together with Apple at work to launch the first iPhone with support for 5G technologies as soon as possible. Cristiano Amon, President of Qualcomm Technologies, has leaked some details on the agreement with Apple for the supply of chipsets stipulated in April of this year, making it clear that the first iPhone 5G may not include all the RF front-end supplied implemented by Qualcommm, a decision to ensure the arrival of the iPhone 5G on the market as soon as possible.
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