Qualcomm recently announced that it has worked with more than a dozen smartphone manufacturers (OEMs) to deliver 5G-capable devices to the market.
The dozens of OEMs will use the Snapdragon X50 5G NR modem built by Qualcomm on their next generation handset which is likely to be released in 2019.
A global OEM list that works with Qualcomm, some of which are big smartphone brands, such as LG, Vivo, Oppo, HTC, HMD Global (Nokia brand holders), Sony Mobile, Asus and Sharp. But you are quite observant, would be surprised to see the fact that the largest smartphone vendor in the world, namely Samsung which was not on the list.
This shows that although Samsung and Qualcomm are already established to increase cooperation in various areas of technology through the transition to 5G, in fact Samsung will not make their next-generation devices using a 5G modem from Qualcomm.
The Snapdragon X50 5G NR modem was first heard since 2016. This modem features “New Radio” which is the first 5G specification that currently meets the standardization by 3GPP standard body.
The “NR” code is basically describing the connection capabilities in a 5G network such as the “LTE” or Long-Term Evolution code being synonymous with 4G. Qualcomm says that they designed the Snapdragon X50 5G NR modem slightly earlier than previously thought, to support the 5G network for 5G development and adoption to become reality.
When combined, Snapdragon processor with an integrated Gigabit class LTE modem, the full Snapdragon 5G platform can provide multi-mode 4G / 5G support. The Fed’s 4G fallback support is very important because even though 5G smartphones will enter the global market in the next year, it will still require some time before operators in different countries activate their 5G networks.
Qualcomm claims that the Snapdragon X50 5G NR modem can reach a top speed of 5Gbps by using Multiple-Input Multiple-Output or MIMO on the 28GHz frequency band which is part of the Wave or mmWave millimeter spectrum. This is possible because of the mmWave front-end hardware that has many antennas that allow aggressive MIMO usage.
MIMO is basically parallelizing radio communications over multiple antennas with each antenna handling one data transfer at a time. The idea behind this is to get a higher aggregate data rate by increasing the number of data transfers simultaneously.
As mentioned earlier, dozens of global OEMs have decided to use the Qualcomm X50 5G NR modem for 5G devices due next year. But some giant smartphone vendors like Samsung, Apple and Huawei are not on the list.
Not surprisingly, Huawei is not on the list because this Chinese company that does not use a Qualcomm chipset, but a homemade processor, namely Kirin.
For Samsung and Apple there are from some series of their products that use Qualcomm processor. However, the relationship between Apple and Qualcomm lately less harmonious. Both are often involved in complex legal battles in some cases, particularly with respect to patents.
Then what about Samsung? What is the reason Samsung is reluctant to use Snapdragon X50 5G NR modem claimed by Qualcomm?
Some of you may not realize that Samsung is quite reliable in making its own mobile modem. South Korea-based technology company recently announced its latest generation chip Exynos 9810, a processor that will strengthen the Galaxy S9 Series, and the performance of this processor is combined with Samsung’s latest Samsung Cat.18 LTE modem.
Samsung claims that their latest modem is the first in the industry to support 6CA (carrier aggregation) and is capable of producing maximum download speeds of 1.2Gbps. This is similar to Cat X18 LTE X18 modem. Snapdragon 845 also promises 1.2Gbps download speed. And Samsung will use the Snapdragon 845 processor for some models of Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 + (which are sold in certain countries).
Samsung is fully capable of developing its own cellular modem that can compete and even the best with Qualcomm.
While the biggest reason why we do not see Samsung in the global OEM list that will use the Snapdragon X50 5G NR modem is that Samsung developed its own modem Exynos 5G own.
Samsung has showcased the new modem to an industry partner exclusively at CES 2018 last month. Exynos 5G modem is also expected to promise speeds up to 5Gbps with backwards compatibility with 4G LTE, 3G and 2G networks. The modem will reportedly support both bands below 6Ghz as well as high frequency band mmWave like 28GHz and 39GHz. And this Samsung-made modem meets the 3GPP draft standard for the initial 5G specification and will be completed in June 2018.