Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Tech Summit 2019 kicked off on 3rd December in Maui. Qualcomm has billed it as the largest launch event of the year for the company. Qualcomm started the event by giving a 5G rollout update and announced it now has over 230 5G design wins. Highlights from day one included:
- Snapdragon 865, 765 and 765G:
Qualcomm announced its first-ever integrated 5G platform with the launch of Snapdragon 765 and 765G mobile platforms. Although the hardware details will be disclosed during day two of the event, some of the highlights indicate that Qualcomm is aiming to drive 5G into mid-tier price points in 2020. Interestingly, the 7-series has an integrated modem while the 8-series does not.
Qualcomm has integrated the X52 5G modem into the 765 and 765G series, while the flagship 865 mobile platform will include the Snapdragon X55 Modem-RF system. The granular details are still to come, but some of the key specs of the X52 modem include:
- Download speeds up to 3.7Gbps
- mmWave and Sub6 support
- Dynamic spectrum sharing—4G and 5G devices can share the same FDD channel–meaning carriers do not have to wait to clear spectrum before rolling out 5G
- Carrier aggregation
- Non-standalone and standalone 5G
- Snapdragon 865 and 765 5G Modular Platforms:
Qualcomm also announced the Snapdragon 865 and 765 5G modular platforms. Qualcomm aims to replicate the success it had with integrated chipset solutions and its reference design approach from the 3G/4G era. 5G modular platforms aim to help OEMs get over the complexities in the 5G device launch phase and more easily develop broader portfolios. With 5G modular platforms, Qualcomm will be integrating almost all components into two to three modules, enabling an easy layout. These modular platforms are operator certified, have lower development costs and ensure faster time to market for OEMs. Verizon and Vodafone are the first carriers announcing support of the certification program for Snapdragon modular platforms, with more carriers joining in 2020.These modular solutions are not just applicable for smartphones but can also be adopted in adjacent segments like automotive, IoT and wearables.
- Upcoming 5G devices: Representatives from Motorola, Xiaomi, OPPO, and HMD Global shared the stage making product announcements and complimenting the new Snapdragon designs.
Motorola’s President, Sergio Buniac, announced its commitment to the foldable smartphone segment and how its partnership with Qualcomm will help it to bring more 5G phones in 2020. Motorola stressed the importance of how the Snapdragon 765 platform will be critical in expanding 5G in different markets. Motorola also announced profitability for five quarters running.
Xiaomi’s, Co-founder and Vice Chairman, Lin Bin announced the upcoming Mi 10 smartphone powered by the Snapdragon 865 platform. Xiaomi also announced that, to date, 427 million Qualcomm powered Xiaomi smartphones have been shipped. In fact, all premium-tier devices from Xiaomi since 2011 have been powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon. Xiaomi is also planning to launch more than ten 5G smartphones in 2020.
OPPO’s Vice President, Alen Wu, highlighted how the partnership with Qualcomm helped it to launch its first 5G commercial phone in the European market. OPPO is accelerating its Global 5G deployment. It is working with 11 operators in seven countries to launch 5G products in these markets as part of its 5G landing project. It is also launching its first smartphone with the Snapdragon 865 platform in Q1 2020 and the Reno 3 Pro with Snapdragon 765 platform.
HMD Global, Chief Product Officer, Juho Sarvikas, highlighted the approach to 5G with a focus on Snapdragon 765 to deliver premium flagship experiences in the affordable segment. Nokia phones will be covering the highest number of 5G new radio bands in both mid and low bands with the goal of holding a 5G connection longer. This will also help 5G roaming. Nokia will also leverage Qualcomm to highlight its PureView imaging story and likely incorporate its modular platforms.
Other Chinese OEMs and ODMs are planning to launch 5G devices with Qualcomm chipsets in 2020 and beyond. These include BlackShark, Coolpad, iQOO, Lenovo, Meizu, Nubia, OnePlus, Realme, Smartisan, TCL, vivo, Wingtech, ZTE, and 8848.
- Sonic Max, a new fingerprint-scanning technology
Qualcomm unveiled 3D Sonic Max, which is the updated version of Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. 3D Sonic Max sensor recognition areas are 17 times bigger than the previous generation and can read two fingerprints at the same time enabling extra authentication and comes with much-improved security levels. Qualcomm is aiming for a one in a million-accuracy rate which is similar to Apple’s accuracy claim on face ID.
- Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile are all committed to mmWave
A key theme of Qualcomm was echoed by the three largest operators in the US—low bands will be used for blanket 5G support and mmWave be used for ‘performance’. Each carrier made news with a 5G announcement. T-Mobile announced it has turned on its 600MHz 5G network, covering over 200 million people and over 5,000 cities. Verizon announced new 5G innovation centers and that 5G will reach 30 US cities by year-end. AT&T announced its Band 14 (700MHz) FirstNet network is 75% complete. It also announced a new rural disaster response network which can be deployed from an airship.