If you don’t already know it, I’ll just go ahead and tell you Qualcomm is very popular. Known best for its modems, and typically being the first to market the latest in modem technologies, the company had some explaining to do after an investor conference last week. Turns out, Qualcomm had announced a brand new modem dubbed the Snapdragon X16 LTE, which could carry mobile phones into gigabit-class speeds.
This is going to seriously come in handy, considering we can’t live without our constant streaming media, new apps, and 4K IPS displays. When just five years ago, we were cool with 5MP smartphone cameras, and 720p video, the current norm has already reached 16MP, and 4K video. Therefore, the need for a gigabit-class LTE modem is the obvious next step in meeting this immense “data density” (Forbes).
“What do we want? Faster download and upload speeds! When do we want it? Yesterday!”
Phone companies know this is what we want. That’s precisely why you’ll see each one fighting for our attention with increased data caps, or even unlimited plans. The new Snapdragon X16, offering what is called Category 16 LTE, will perform download speeds of up to 1Gbps, and upload speeds of up to 150Mbps. Apparently, it can reach these speeds using the same amount of spectrum as Category 9 LTE devices. Taking into account that the average smartphone can reach 300, maybe 450Mbps, this is a significant jump (nearly 2 or 3 times faster); possibly enough to meet the demand of all those YouTubers, Viners, SnapChatters, and Instagramers. According to Engadget, in the easiest form of explanation, it works using four antennas (4x4 MIMO), and special signal management to connect to 10 LTE data streams from just three 20MHz carriers. Each of the 10 LTE data streams puts out 100Mbps, you multiple 100Mbps times 10, and voila: 1Gbps.
We’ll be anxiously waiting for our smartphone carrier to pick up these type of speeds, even the notion brings up an exciting level of competition. It could be until the second half of the year that we see any X16-friendly devices, and as far as a Snapdragon SoC with an integrated X16 LTE modem, it won’t be until 2017 until we see that. For now, “the new chips will only be available as separate modems to be used alongside existing system-on-a-chip hardware” (kinda like how Apple uses Snapdragon alongside its A-series SoCs). Don’t worry Qualcomm, we will try to be patient (Gizmodo).
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