Earlier this year Qualcomm announced that it had made its first connection with the 5G NR (new radio) through its prototype system. This prototype was constructed to help with the build outs with Ericsson and Vodafone to get 5G in trials in the second of half this year. The device was crude, but effective, and took up a lot of space in a 2U rackmount design.
Today Qualcomm steps up its investment and apparent leadership position with the next generation connectivity technology by showcasing a reference smartphone design that implements the X50 5G modem for the first time.
Though far from a retail-ready announcement, this 9mm thin smartphone design proves that the future of 5G is strong and allows Qualcomm to crow about its position in the field. This design makes several key points, according to the connectivity giant:
- It is the first smartphone-style design integration for the X50 modem, announced a year ago at the company’s 4G/5G summit in Hong Kong.
- Showcases greater than 1Gbps data connectivity on the 100 MHz bands with only a 2xCA (carrier aggregation) implementation.
- Proves the feasibility of mmWave (millimeter wave) technology at 28 GHz in a smartphone with a silicon-based chip that fits four mmWave antenna and a 5G transceiver.
The real bright spot on this design is the inclusion of connectivity support on mmWave technology, previously thought to be extremely difficult to do in a smartphone form factor. Using mmWaves creates complexity due to its reluctance to transmit THROUGH things (including people), so the small surface area of a phone was going to cause issues. By integrating support for four large surface area antenna on this design and the 5G module, Qualcomm believes it has taken a large step in productization.
This reference design will enable trials of 5G technology in real-world environments and use cases. Qualcomm also claims that at launch time (early 2019), the module for the mmWave transceiver will be shrunk by another 50%. Qualcomm hopes that by showing OEMs and carriers that 5G technology challenges are addressable in common and expected form factors, it can accelerate and ease the adoption of the technology for consumers and enterprise applications.