A step closer to broad satellite support?


Qualcomm Snapdragon X80 5G Modem RF 03

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

TL;DR

  • Qualcomm has announced the Snapdragon X80 modem.
  • The new modem is expected to appear inside the Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 chipset.

Qualcomm is the leader of the pack as far as smartphone connectivity is concerned, with its modems used in its own flagship processors and in Apple’s iPhones. Now, the company has announced the Snapdragon X80 modem at MWC 2024.

Qualcomm says the X80 modem supports 3GPP Release 17 and is Release 18 “ready.” It also features a number of firsts compared to the X75 modem seen in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset.

The company says this is the first modem with 6x carrier aggregation and the first with 6Rx support (i.e. supporting six antennas). It adds that this is also the first to offer an “AI-based” antenna management system.

Qualcomm Snapdragon X80 5G Modem RF 01

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

These features should translate into a faster, more reliable, and more efficient experience when using a phone with this modem. Qualcomm adds that this is the first 5G modem with integrated NB-NTN (satellite) support, in lieu of separate silicon. The company noted during a pre-briefing that this approach should free up space inside the phone, potentially leading to slimmer designs and/or bigger batteries. Will this actually result in more phones with satellite support? That remains to be seen. But OEMs and carriers will nevertheless still need to team up with a satellite provider.

What should we expect in terms of performance gains? Well, the chip designer says you should expect 30% better location accuracy, a 20% reduction in best-cell selection time, and a 10% reduction in power consumption in connected mode for mmWave. The firm adds that you should expect downlink speeds of up to 10Gbps and uplink speeds of up to 3.5Gbps.

Qualcomm says commercial devices with the X80 modem are expected to launch in the second half of the year. We asked the company to elaborate on partners but it would only state that it was working with the “leading device OEMs.”

Nevertheless, we’re expecting this modem to appear inside the Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 processor. Apple has also traditionally used a Qualcomm modem but the company reportedly used the older X70 modem in its iPhone 15 series. So there’s no guarantee of the X80 appearing in the iPhone 16 range.



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