Qualcomm's third-gen Snapdragon X60 5G modem is fast and flexible
Will Apple want this 5nm part for its next iPhone?By Shawn Knight
In brief: Qualcomm on Tuesday announced its third-generation 5G modem for mobile devices, the Snapdragon X60 5G Modem-RF System - or Snapdragon X60 for short - and it is noteworthy for a few reasons.
Built on a 5nm process, Qualcomm said it is the world's first 5G Modem-RF System to support spectrum aggregation across all key 5G bands and combinations including mmWave and sub-6 via frequency division duplex (FDD) and time division duplex (TDD).
In other words, this means the chip is compatible with a range of frequency spectrum currently being deployed by various carriers. It'll work with speedy mmWave towers as well as slower but rangier mid-band deployments. Think of it as a "best of both worlds" solution at a time when carriers are still figuring out their long-term plans for 5G networks.
Qualcomm said the X60 also allows for fiber-like Internet speeds and low latency, delivering up to 7.5 gigabits per second (Gbps) download speeds and uploads of 3 Gbps.
Qualcomm will be shipping samples to vendors sometime this quarter. We can expect the X60 to start showing up in flagship smartphones in early 2021, the company said.
As Macworld highlights, Qualcomm has Apple squarely in its sights with the new X60. Sure, the Cupertino-based company just bought Intel's mobile modem business but the X60 is a very advanced chip and it's entirely likely that Apple won't be able to match or beat it in time for the next wave of iPhones. If Apple wants the very best in its next handset, it may have no choice but to reach out to Qualcomm for some help.