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Qualcomm’s X55 5G modem to deliver 7Gbits/sec downloads

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The company's X55 modem will be the power behind the 5G smartphones of the future

We haven’t seen any 5G smartphones just yet but chip manufacturer Qualcomm is already looking ahead to the next generation. Ahead of MWC 2019, it has unveiled the X55, a modem that will power superfast cellular connectivity in 2020 and beyond.

The X55 supersedes the X50, which will be the modem that enables 5G connectivity in this year’s first-generation 5G smartphones. Like the X50, it’s fabricated using a 7nm manufacturing process and supports downloads of up to 7Gbits/sec over a 5G connection. Uploads are limited to a comparatively slower rate of 3Gbits/sec.

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“Qualcomm Technologies is spearheading the first wave of 5G launches with our first-generation 5G mobile platform. 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,” said Qualcomm president, Cristiano Amon.

You’ll hear a lot about the various standards of 5G in the coming months, but suffice to say the X55 supports the lot. There’s support for mmWave (that’s the extremely high-frequency band between 30GHz and 300GHz) and also Sub-6GHz.

The chip also supports both standalone and non-standalone 5G networks. The latter will be the most prevalent type of 5G network at first and will require a mixture of both 4G and 5G technology to work.

Speaking of which, the X55 supports 4G Cat22 connections with download speeds reaching 2.5Gbits/sec and is also backwards compatible all the way down to 2G.

So when will we see the first X55 smartphones? Alas, not for some time. While we’ll see the first X50-based smartphones at MWC this year, you probably won’t see the X55 until the subsequent generation of flagship handsets.

In fact, it probably won’t be until late 2019 or, more likely, early 2020 that the first handsets carrying the X55 modem will appear on the market. It’s possible we’ll see X55-based mobile hotspots appear a little before then, though.

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