Qualcomm's new X55 5G modem is ridiculously fast - but Apple probably won't use it

Posted:
in iPhone
Qualcomm on Tuesday revealed a new modem, the Snapdragon X55, an updated 5G model with better performance -- though it's unlikely to appear in Apple's iPhone anytime soon unless the two companies can settle their differences.

iPhone XS


The X55 can hit download speeds up to 7 gigabits per second, and uploads as high as 3 gigabits, Qualcomm said. This is only under ideal 5G network conditions, but even slower performance should still be faster than most landline internet connections.

Other upgrades include support for "all major frequency bands" and more operation modes, such as 4G/5G spectrum sharing. That should make 5G phones more practical, able to hop networks and take advantage of any coverage growth. Power efficiency is promised through a 7-nanometer design and technologies like adaptive antenna tuning and 100-megahertz envelope tracking.

The first phones with X55 modems should ship in late 2019.

Once Apple's exclusive modem supplier, Qualcomm has been largely pushed to the sidelines because of a global legal battle between the pair over patents and royalties. The fight kicked off in January 2017, when Apple sued over nearly $1 billion in rebates it said were withheld as retaliation for cooperation with antitrust investigators. Private lawsuits are ongoing around the world, and various government bodies have pursued their own cases, sometimes leveling millions of dollars in fines. A trial brought by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, with Apple's help, concluded late last month.

The main exception to iPhone supply is in Germany, where Apple recently began selling modified iPhone 7 and 8 models with Qualcomm modems to skirt a device ban.

Apple's core modem supplier is now Intel. That company has lagged behind Qualcomm in 5G development, which in combination with small U.S. network coverage makes it likely that iPhones won't offer 5G until 2020.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    Firstly data packages need to be unlimited. 4G is already good enough for most smartphone applications. iOS also needs to allow App Store cellular downloads to be beyond 150mb to 500MB.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 21
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,944member
    Firstly data packages need to be unlimited. 4G is already good enough for most smartphone applications. iOS also needs to allow App Store cellular downloads to be beyond 150mb to 500MB.
    Carriers will probably adapt at some point and offer virtually unlimited data (or far higher allocations) as long as the networks can handle the strain. There are plans in Spain that do not count WhatsApp traffic as part of your data allocation. It wouldn't be a stretch of the imagination to envisage something like Netflix not impacting your data allowance in the future.
  • Reply 3 of 21
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,968member
    I don't even get consistent and complete 4G LTE signal so who cares if modem can fly. It all depends on the network you using in place you live and work.
    mac_dogDeelronberndogwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 4 of 21
    Pointless. As recent OpenSignal tests show carriers aren’t even providing a fraction of what current devices are capable of. It’s going to be years before they’re even close to 1/10th of this theoretical speed.
    racerhomie3DeelronstompyberndogMplsPwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 21
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,652member
    Absolutely irrelevant until the network operators upgrade their networks and by the time that happens, players like Intel will have caught up and new models of iPhones willl be out.

    It could be 1tb/s and I wouldn’t care.
    edited February 19 MplsPwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 6 of 21
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,944member
    wood1208 said:
    I don't even get consistent and complete 4G LTE signal so who cares if modem can fly. It all depends on the network you using in place you live and work.
    True. There is no point buying into something if you can't use it. However, this new modem can switch between modes without requiring a separate modem (which cannot be said for the QC X50 modems).

    That means having an X55 equipped phone will give you performance gains and some degree of future proofing.

    If you commute to a big city as I do you may find poor coverage at home but excellent coverage at work.

    Thankfully, my rural LTE+ coverage is around 8 times faster than my wired ADSL connection and this year symmetrical fibre will become obligatory as copper is phased out completely.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 7 of 21
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,968member
    avon b7 said:
    wood1208 said:
    I don't even get consistent and complete 4G LTE signal so who cares if modem can fly. It all depends on the network you using in place you live and work.
    True. There is no point buying into something if you can't use it. However, this new modem can switch between modes without requiring a separate modem (which cannot be said for the QC X50 modems).

    That means having an X55 equipped phone will give you performance gains and some degree of future proofing.

    If you commute to a big city as I do you may find poor coverage at home but excellent coverage at work.

    Thankfully, my rural LTE+ coverage is around 8 times faster than my wired ADSL connection and this year symmetrical fibre will become obligatory as copper is phased out completely.
    I would like better signal detection and stay sync under weak signal condition so modem able to transfer data better/faster for the same network speed/condition. So, simply faster modem don't always make it consistent good user experience.
    k2kwwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 21
    metrixmetrix Posts: 250member
    Qualcomm has made it to my "do not buy list" along with Samsung. Apple doesn't do everything right by any means but they do enough for me that they have my loyalty. I wish I wouldn't have thrown out my Quadra 800, kinda miss that old beige tower, but still have my Cube. 
    edited February 19 watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 21
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,944member


    Pointless. As recent OpenSignal tests show carriers aren’t even providing a fraction of what current devices are capable of. It’s going to be years before they’re even close to 1/10th of this theoretical speed.
    It's not pointless if you live in an area with good coverage. 

    Only five years ago a Swedish ISP was offering Fibre speeds of 100Mb (symmetrical) over its own private network to consumers in a relatively small town (70,000) near Barcelona. It now has capacity for 1,000,000 offering real 1,000Mb down and 300Mb up.

    To put that into context, the data centres I was visiting at the time that were supporting critical infrastructure as well as holding CERN and sychrotron data were envious of the speeds consumers were getting for 20€ a month.

    4G got up to speed quickly in my neck of the woods. 5G should do the same here but clearly it will depend on the networks where you live and/or work.
    GeorgeBMacmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 10 of 21
    netroxnetrox Posts: 744member
    What is motivating them to need that super fast connection other than to possibly use it as a "hot spot"? Granted, it may not be even availabe for a few years and by then, we will need new iphone anyway.
    entropyswatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 21
    Apple should stay away from Qualcomm at all costs and continue to work on building its own modems. 
    Qualcomm modems should get worse treatment from Apple than Google maps in the long run. 

    Just  imagine how damaging the Qualcomm fiasco would have been if Apple were using then in autonomous cars, iPhones, iWatches, iPads, MacBooks etc...

    The modem is so critical that Apple needs to own its design and implementation  and differentiate itself from the rest just like the CPU and GPU. 
    edited February 19 berndogwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 21
    avon b7 said:


    Pointless. As recent OpenSignal tests show carriers aren’t even providing a fraction of what current devices are capable of. It’s going to be years before they’re even close to 1/10th of this theoretical speed.
    It's not pointless if you live in an area with good coverage. 

    Only five years ago a Swedish ISP was offering Fibre speeds of 100Mb (symmetrical) over its own private network to consumers in a relatively small town (70,000) near Barcelona. It now has capacity for 1,000,000 offering real 1,000Mb down and 300Mb up.

    To put that into context, the data centres I was visiting at the time that were supporting critical infrastructure as well as holding CERN and sychrotron data were envious of the speeds consumers were getting for 20€ a month.

    4G got up to speed quickly in my neck of the woods. 5G should do the same here but clearly it will depend on the networks where you live and/or work.
    The so called logic is:  "If I can't use it because I live in the boon docks, then nobody should have it."
    It's sort of a take off on 1st grade where the teacher said that you can't chew bubblegum if you don't bring enough for everybody.
    gatorguymuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 21
    avon b7 said:


    Pointless. As recent OpenSignal tests show carriers aren’t even providing a fraction of what current devices are capable of. It’s going to be years before they’re even close to 1/10th of this theoretical speed.
    It's not pointless if you live in an area with good coverage. 

    Only five years ago a Swedish ISP was offering Fibre speeds of 100Mb (symmetrical) over its own private network to consumers in a relatively small town (70,000) near Barcelona. It now has capacity for 1,000,000 offering real 1,000Mb down and 300Mb up.

    To put that into context, the data centres I was visiting at the time that were supporting critical infrastructure as well as holding CERN and sychrotron data were envious of the speeds consumers were getting for 20€ a month.

    4G got up to speed quickly in my neck of the woods. 5G should do the same here but clearly it will depend on the networks where you live and/or work.

    Bull.

    Picking out very rare case examples doesn't mean jack for the other 99% of the world. It's as stupid as saying gigabit Internet is common because Google Fiber exists in a few test markets.

    Funny how I mentioned OpenSignal but you left them out of your discussion since you know they measure actual real-world speed (not theoretical or speeds in specialized markets) and prove I'm right about carrier speeds.


    Even so, 5G will be the new talking point for Android device makers because of their vastly inferior processors compared to Apples A Series. Since they can't match Apple on the processor side they need to come up with some other metric (that can be measured and assigned a numerical value) to claim they are faster than Apple. They will then try to make it appear that 5G is actually relevant to how your device operates (it isn't) to imply an Android device with 5G will somehow outperform an iPhone without 5G (they won't).
    stompywatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 21
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,944member
    avon b7 said:


    Pointless. As recent OpenSignal tests show carriers aren’t even providing a fraction of what current devices are capable of. It’s going to be years before they’re even close to 1/10th of this theoretical speed.
    It's not pointless if you live in an area with good coverage. 

    Only five years ago a Swedish ISP was offering Fibre speeds of 100Mb (symmetrical) over its own private network to consumers in a relatively small town (70,000) near Barcelona. It now has capacity for 1,000,000 offering real 1,000Mb down and 300Mb up.

    To put that into context, the data centres I was visiting at the time that were supporting critical infrastructure as well as holding CERN and sychrotron data were envious of the speeds consumers were getting for 20€ a month.

    4G got up to speed quickly in my neck of the woods. 5G should do the same here but clearly it will depend on the networks where you live and/or work.

    Bull.

    Picking out very rare case examples doesn't mean jack for the other 99% of the world. It's as stupid as saying gigabit Internet is common because Google Fiber exists in a few test markets.

    Funny how I mentioned OpenSignal but you left them out of your discussion since you know they measure actual real-world speed (not theoretical or speeds in specialized markets) and prove I'm right about carrier speeds.


    Even so, 5G will be the new talking point for Android device makers because of their vastly inferior processors compared to Apples A Series. Since they can't match Apple on the processor side they need to come up with some other metric (that can be measured and assigned a numerical value) to claim they are faster than Apple. They will then try to make it appear that 5G is actually relevant to how your device operates (it isn't) to imply an Android device with 5G will somehow outperform an iPhone without 5G (they won't).
    Oh dear you just don't want to open your eyes.

    Think about it this way:

    1. Huawei has already shipped more than 25,000 5G base stations.

    2. It has just announced the Tiangang 5G chipset.

    https://www.huawei.com/en/press-events/news/2019/1/huawei-first-5g-base-station-core-chip-5g

    3. Next week it will announce phones with Balong01 5000 chipsets.

    1+2+3= 5G reality.

    It is irrelevant that you won't have immediate access to this. It is irrelevant if only 1% has access.

    The important thing is that the infrastructure is rolling out the door at this very moment and all the pieces are becoming available.

    Yes, it will take time for coverage to become widespread and some countries may have to wait longer than others but the whole point is that the ball is rolling.

    MWC 2019 will be dedicated to 5G and its uses. 

    It isn't bull if you have coverage.

    Check with your country/carriers and make decisions on that information.

    And don't forget that 5G isn't only a consumer facing technology. Some buses in Barcelona have the ability to change traffic lights.

    Imagine a situation where 5G equipped public transport could dynamically alter traffic light timings based on complex, real time traffic density data to increase fluidity.

    Imagine city bike services equipped with 5G to allow for real time distribution of bikes to base stations. 

    Current implementations are a little crude but functional. 5G has the backend infrastructure to really change everyday aspects of our lives. If you happen to live or work in a smart city with 5G, you will see the improvements which will spur adoption at an end user level.
    edited February 19
  • Reply 15 of 21
    Qualcomm will come around, since they need Apple far more than vice versa.

    C'mon, look at who the other buyers of these modems are: they buy cheap (likely because of stolen IP).
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 21
    croprcropr Posts: 944member
    wood1208 said:
    I don't even get consistent and complete 4G LTE signal so who cares if modem can fly. It all depends on the network you using in place you live and work.
    The reason is that in cities 4G is completely saturated.  That is exactly the reason why you should care about 5G.  The main advantage of 5G is not the higher speed but a serious increase in available bandwidth
    randominternetperson
  • Reply 17 of 21
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,162member
    And what, exactly, does a smartphone need 7gbps for? Under “ideal conditions” of course. 
    MplsPwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 21
    lkrupp said:
    And what, exactly, does a smartphone need 7gbps for? Under “ideal conditions” of course. 
    Didn't you see the picture accompanying this article?  You need it to book hotels using Kayak, of course!  /s
    stompywatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 21
    Upgrading to 5G is critical for iPhone sales this year!  We all know that it will take time for the available networks to catch-up, but who in their right mind would pay over $1,000 for a phone that will be “obsolete” in a few years.  It is all about perceived value.  I was all set to upgrade my two old iPhone 6 with new XR’s, but held off waiting for the 5G.  Some of the new bells and whistle features are nice, but not enough to convince me to upgrade.  You can explain all you want about how practical 5G will be, but Apple gets a premium because they are perceived as the technology leader.  iPhone sales will grind to a halt if they try to sell a phone that is considered technically inferior to others.
  • Reply 20 of 21
    I wonder if the transition from Intel to Apple custom will happen sooner than Intel to Qualcomm again.
    watto_cobra
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