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5G Summit: Qualcomm reveals what's next for 5G smartphones
Qualcomm is holding its annual 5G Summit in San Diego once again, and the company has a few key announcements to share regarding its tech for future 5G products. These announcements arrive as 5G connectivity and smartphones have become mainstream in many parts of the world.
Better Bluetooth and Wi-Fi coming?
Perhaps the most prominent reveal is Smart Transmit 3.0. This is the third generation of Qualcomm’s 5G speed and coverage optimizing tech. However, the big upgrade in this iteration is that Smart Transmit now encompasses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for the first time, optimizing your phone’s entire radio stack. Qualcomm says Smart Transmit 3.0 supports Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6E, and Wi-Fi 7.
We asked Qualcomm about specific performance and efficiency gains for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when using Smart Transmit 3.0, but the company didn’t divulge any figures. It’s also worth noting that future Wi-Fi and Bluetooth versions will likely offer a bigger improvement, but even a small improvement to current standards would be welcomed.
You can expect to find this tech in the previously revealed Snapdragon X70 5G modem, which is due to arrive in phones by “late 2022,” according to Qualcomm.
Standalone mmWave for X70
At the 5G Summit, Qualcomm also announced that standalone mmWave connection support is coming to the X70 modem, demonstrating a connection as well. The achievement was made using a test device powered by the upcoming modem.
Most 5G networks are of the non-standalone variety, which means they’re still reliant on 4G tech for some functionality. However, standalone 5G solely uses 5G radio and backend tech, which should result in more flexible networks and services. Furthermore, this announcement shows that 5G backend technology can work in areas without a sub-6GHz connection.
It’s worth noting that Qualcomm previously announced a standalone mmWave 5G data connection milestone in July 2021. The firm told us that the previous milestone was related to 200MHz support, which is a requirement for the Chinese market.
What else to expect from the Snapdragon X70 modem?
The X70 is the first 5G modem with an AI chip, and Qualcomm has revealed a few more benefits of this silicon in the run-up to its release.
Specifically, the company says you can expect a 20% boost to mmWave coverage in “dense urban environments.” You can also expect a throughput gain of up to 73% for mobility-based sub-6GHz 5G at the edge of coverage, while pedestrians at the edge of coverage could gain a boost of up to 28%. It’s likely that users will only see these listed gains in ideal conditions, though.
Qualcomm previously noted it uses this AI suite for 5G channel optimization, smart network selection, mmWave beam management, and antenna tuning. This should theoretically result in performance and efficiency gains, but we’ll wait for the first X70-toting devices to see if this is indeed the case.
Hadlee Simons is a guest of Qualcomm at its 5G Summit. Qualcomm paid for travel and accommodation for the duration of the event.