Qualcomm has launched the Snapdragon X60 as its third generation 5G modem. It is the first 5G modem to be built using 5nm node. The San Diego, California-based chipmaker said that X60 is capable of up to 7.5Gbps download and 3Gbps upload speeds. It also supports both mmWave and sub-6GHz versions of 5G connectivity. In other words, this is the modem that will work regardless of mode used for 5G deployment.
Like the Snapdragon X55, the Snapdragon X60 also works on both TDD and FDD networks. This should mean that the chip will offer truly global 5G support. What if your country does not have 5G yet? Don’t worry because the X60 is backward compatible with support for 4G LTE as well as legacy 3G and 2G network bands. The Snapdragon X60 builds on the advancements we saw with Snapdragon X50 and X55, which brought 5G to the mainstream.
With Snapdragon X60, Qualcomm is addressing the biggest skepticism around modem design. At 5nm, the modem is smaller than its predecessor and only the second time, a chip maker has used the 5nm process node. Another new addition with the Snapdragon X60 is the support for dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS). This allows carriers to repurpose their LTE bands for faster data speeds and enable 5G deployment.
Another new feature is Voice over new radio (VoNR), which enables standalone high-quality voice calls over 5G. While 5G has always been purported as a data-centric mobile telephony, Qualcomm is changing the narrative with Snapdragon X60. The modem also comes with an updated QTM535 mmWave module, which again has a smaller footprint. This should allow for 5G smartphones to be thinner and lighter. We could see Apple use this modem for its 5G iPhones coming out this year.
A recent report from Fast Company said that Apple is designing its own 5G antennas. The report claimed Apple is not happy with Qualcomm modem since it does not allow Apple to make thinner iPhone design. Qualcomm says that smartphones with Snapdragon X60 will debut in 2021. We could have seen this modem launch at MWC 2020 but with the show canceled, Qualcomm seems to have announced it without much fanfare.