Snapdragon X24 blurs the line between 4G LTE and 5G

Qualcomm, it would seem, is starting 2018 with a bang. Last week, the company announced that its Snapdragon X50 would enter testing this year with carriers around the world and feature in 5G phones beginning next year. This week, the focus is back on 4G LTE and the immediate future, as we see the new Snapdragon X24 pushing LTE boundaries further.

Qualcomm revealed today that it has begun sampling the X24 modem, which it claims is the first Category 20 LTE modem to achieve speeds of up to 2 gigabits per second. Not only that, but it's also the first modem made with Qualcomm's 7 nanometer FinFet process. We'll see the X24 get its first demonstration at MWC in cooperation with Ericsson, Telstra, and Netgear.

The Snapdragon X24 will support 7x carrier aggregation and 4x4 MIMO on up to five aggregate carriers, which allows the modem to "utilize all spectrum assets available from a mobile operator." This, in turn, opens the door to better performance than what we have now, though since your network speeds aren't just dependent on the modem in your phone, it might be best not to expect 2Gbps speeds from phones utilizing an X24 at all times.

Still, the launch of this modem serves to blur the line between 4G LTE and 5G. Though 5G speeds will eventually outclass what even the best 4G LTE modems are capable of achieving, it's going to take a long time to get to that point. At the beginning, as carriers start to roll out their 5G networks, 4G LTE is going to still be important for many mobile users.

So, even though the launch of 5G is right around the corner, there's still reason to try to improve 4G LTE speeds over the next few years. Qualcomm says that sampling with its partners has already begun, and that we should see the first devices featuring the X24 launch by the end of the year. Stay tuned.