Qualcomm reveals first successful 5G test on a mobile device

17 Oct 2017

New millimetre-wave antenna in the Snapdragon X50 5G modem from Qualcomm. Image: Qualcomm

Mobile technology player Qualcomm unveils new 5G advances.

Qualcomm Technologies today (17 October) announced that it has completed its first test of a functional 5G connection on a mobile device.

It stated that the Snapdragon X50 5G modem chipset delivered gigabit speeds and a data connection in the 28GHz millimetre-wave frequency band.

The Snapdragon X50 5G modem was much larger at its inception, as demonstrated by this tweet from Android expert Daniel Bader from the Mobile World Congress conference last February.

To have reduced the X50 to handset-appropriate size in a few short months and also get it to work effectively is quite a feat. The new millimetre-wave antenna is around the size of a 10c coin and Qualcomm said two of them can fit in a smartphone, with further shrinkage plans on the cards.

new chipset

Snapdragon X50 modem. Image: Qualcomm

First ever 5G smartphone reference design

The data connection demonstration took place at Qualcomm’s San Diego laboratories, using the company’s first ever 5G smartphone reference design. It will use this to test 5G modems, networks and radios in the next few months in preparation for the release of 5G-ready smartphones in 2019.

The design even features an edge-to-edge screen much like the latest Samsung models, among other brands.

5G smartphone reference design

The 5G smartphone reference design. Image: Qualcomm

The firm expects 5G to co-exist with 4G LTE for a number of years, but eventually it plans to offer speeds 10 times the level we can currently achieve with the present LTE standard.

Cristiano Amon, executive vice-president at Qualcomm Technologies, said: “This major milestone and our 5G smartphone reference design showcase how Qualcomm Technologies is driving 5G NR in mobile devices to enhance mobile broadband experiences for consumers around the world.”

New mid-range processor

The mobile communications player also announced the arrival of the Snapdragon 636 processor for mid-range devices, which apparently is 40pc improved on performance compared to its predecessor, the 630.

Qualcomm said: “The Snapdragon 636 continues to build out the strong portfolio in Qualcomm Technologies’ high-performance tier of Snapdragon mobile platforms, serving users who demand high-quality devices with top-level features at a low price point.”

The company claimed that the graphics and visual performance of the new processor will see users enjoy an “unprecedented gaming experience” as well as improved browsing standards.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects