Qualcomm today announced its fourth-gen 5G modem, the Snapdragon X65 5G. While the X65 offers a number of upgrades over its predecessors, the biggest upgrade is support for 5G speeds up to 10 Gbps. It’ll probably be a while before we see mobile carriers actually attain those speeds and offer them consistently, but the name of the game for the X65 seems to be future-proofing for precisely that scenario.
In keeping with that theme, Qualcomm says that the X65 has an upgradeable architecture that will allow for, among other things, the “rapid rollout of new 3GPP Release 16 features via software updates.” As in previous releases, the X65 is comprised of an RF transceiver and RF front-end to cover sub-6 GHz 5G and a mmWave antenna module, and in the case of the X65, that mmWave module is being upgraded to the QTM545.
When compared to previous modules, Qualcomm says that the fourth-gen QTM545 will “support higher transmit power” and “all global mmWave frequencies, including the new n259 (41Ghz) band.” The modem will also use AI to bolster its hand grip detection, allowing the modem to tune its antenna to accommodate the way users are holding their phones.
Qualcomm also says that the X65 will ship with spectrum aggregation “across all key 5G bands and combinations, including mmWave and sub-6.” Power saving will also get a boost once the features in 3GPP Release 16 are live, which goes back to those future-proofing software updates that Qualcomm promised off the bat.
All of this sounds great, but it’s going to be some time before we see the Snapdragon X65 actually feature in new phones. Qualcomm says that the modem is currently sampling to customers and that we could see the first phones built on it launch by late 2021. To our ear, it sounds like we probably won’t see the X65 featuring in flagships until we’re into 2022, but in any case, we’ll let you know when phones that use this new modem are announced.