Qualcomm has been at the forefront when it comes to LTE modems and now the company has pulled the wraps from Snapdragon X16 which in cahoots with the WTR5995 receiver, promises speeds up to 1Gbps which is literally a threefold increase over the current speeds of 300Mbps. The Snapdragon X16 will however still offer 150Mbps of upload speed which is almost similar to the speeds currently offered.


As rightly pointed out by ArsTechnica, most of the recent increase in LTE speed have been offered by combining chunks of spectrum across multiple antennas to magnify the bandwidth. It is common for the LTE modems to blend in different technology to offer the speeds, phones usually use chunks of 20MHz spectrum along with a higher rated QAM (Quadrature amplitude modulation) which is in turn expected to increase the data transmitted over the same link.

The quintessential aspect here is the fact that Snapdragon X16 LTE Modem will reach the Gigabit class by using the same amount of spectrum as Cat 9 LTE devices. In spite of using carrier aggregation and 4×4 MIMO, the X16 has reduced dependency on the carriers. The Snapdragon X16 uses three chunks of 20MHz carriers and for further boost in individual streams it uses the 256-QAM.

Snapdragon X16 will be available as a standalone hardware chip at first and OEMs will be able to implement it along with other SoC. As expected, the chip has been based on the 14nm process and is most likely to be used in the next generation iPhones and the other high end phones. Although 1Gbps is more of a theoretical aspect of the specs, it is most likely that the performance of the modem at the lower speed has also been drastically improvised.

Alongside with the Snapdragon X16, Qualcomm has also unveiled a bunch of other SoCs. The Snapdragon 425 will be built on 28nm and is a quad core 64-bit processor along with an Adreno 308GPU. The LTE modem offers 150Mbps download and 75Mbps upload. The Snapdragon 425 is aimed at entry level handsets but yet it doesn’t seem to compromise on the LTE capabilities.

The Snapdragon 435 and the Snapdragon 625 will be something that we will see a lot on the mid range phones. The Snapdragon 435 comes with eight 1.4GHz Cortex A53 cores and will be coupled with the Adreno 505 GPU. The modem is rated to offer up to 300Mbps of download and 100Mbps of upload speeds.

Snapdragon 625 is the full-fledged midrange SoC of the lot and a quick glance at its specs shows how close it comes with the top of the line SoCs. First things first, the 625 is built on the 14nm process which will help it to deliver performance without compromising on the frugality. The Snapdragon 625 is made up of eight Cortex A53 CPU cores clocked at 2.0GHz and paired with a Adreno 506 GPU. The SoC supports 1920×1200 display and also supports better camera units.

Snapdragon Wear 2100 is a new SoC that is tailor made for Android Wear. The quad core SoC consists of four 32-bit ARM Cortex A7 CPU cores, and Adreno 304 GPU and it supports 640×480 displays. The Wear 2100 however comes with a basic LTE modem which is alright since it will mostly be connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth LE. As expected, the chip comes in two variants, one that supports 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1, and another that comes with a LTE modem. Qualcomm touts that both the modems will use 25 percent less power compared to their predecessor.

All of the aforementioned SoCs should be available by second half of the year and the Snapdragon Wear 2100 launch might be imminent since it is already being tested out on devices.

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Senior Author

Mahit Huilgol is a Mechanical Engineering graduate and is a Technology and Automobile aficionado. He ditched the Corporate boardroom wars in the favor for technology battle ground. Also a foodie by heart and loves both the edible chips and the non-edible silicon chips.