Qualcomm announces third-gen Snapdragon X60 5G modem-RF system

“The Snapdragon X60 5G modem is based on the 5nm process and offers mmWave-sub6 aggregation as well as a slim antenna design”

Qualcomm has unveiled its third-generation 5G modem and RF antenna system, dubbed Snapdragon X60. The successor to the Snapdragon X55 modem (that was paired with the Snapdragon 865 SoC), the new Snapdragon X60 is based on the 5nm fabrication process and comes with a new antenna module that is smaller than previous generation designs, thereby allowing the integration of sleeker smartphone designs with the latest 5G connectivity and carrier aggregation technologies.

The design and connectivity features of the Snapdragon X60 modem are designed to help operators across the world make the most of non-standalone 5G networks by offering spectrum aggregation, FDD and TDD aggregation, and dynamic spectrum sharing. Such technologies help in using the existing 4G LTE technologies to enable faster, gigabit-class 5G speeds, which the spectrum and technologies to enable standalone 5G networks are gradually put in place.

One of the key technologies of the Snapdragon X60 modem is mmWave-sub6 spectrum aggregation, which can allow smartphones equipped with the modem to use the best available 5G spectrum in any area, hence offering universal 5G devices as well as one that can aggregate the available networks and offer the best possible bandwidth. It also offers 5G FDD-TDD aggregation for sub-6 networks, which should further help increase the maximum speed of 5G connectivity in areas where the complete rollout of 5G networks has not happened yet.

It also offers 5G TDD-TDD aggregation in stronger network areas, which enables further strengthening of speeds, and combining of the multiple technologies on the Snapdragon X60 modem leads to peak bandwidth throughput to cross 5.5Gbps. The key technologies on the Snapdragon X60 are further combined with the new QTM535 antenna design, which reportedly offers improved mmWave network reception performance, and also a smaller footprint to enable sleeker smartphone designs.

Incidentally, it is the thickness of Qualcomm’s previous antenna design, the QTM525, that has led to Apple considering designing its own 5G antennae for its 2020 iPhones. Going forward, it will be interesting to see if Qualcomm sources its new antenna designs to Apple and whether it fits Apple’s design requirements. The Snapdragon X60 will make for Qualcomm’s next-generation fully equipped 5G network equipment and may be an integrated offering in its next-generation processors.