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Snapdragon X35 To Power Up Cheap Devices Soon

In the run-up to the Mobile World Congress 2023, the US chip company Qualcomm presented the Snapdragon X35, a special 5G modem in “light” format that can be used in smartwatches, VR and AR headsets, but also in notebooks. The main aim of the new wireless solution is to significantly reduce costs.

The Snapdragon X35 is actually a whole system of several modules, of which the 4G and 5G capable modem is a part. It should be significantly more compact than previously available 5G modems and therefore easier to install in small devices, while costs are falling sharply. However, Qualcomm also limits the range of functions.

Reducing Elements not necessary for 5G

With the Snapdragon X35, for example, support for 2G and 3G mobile communications has been removed, so that only LTE and 5G networks can be used. In addition, a simpler variant of 5G mobile communications is used, the so-called NR-Light variant. This is “New Radio Light”, i.e. a reduced version of 5G, which reduces transmission rates and the number of connections to the network.

The X35 modem, for example, only transmits via a carrier in the sub-6 GHz spectrum with a bandwidth of 20 megahertz and therefore only achieves a maximum of 220 megabit/s downstream, while only up to 100 Mbit/s are possible upstream. In addition, only a single antenna is used for contact with the mobile network. In this way, Qualcomm achieves a significant reduction in the complexity of the modem, which reduces costs and size.

Maximum downstream speed 220 Mbit/s

At the same time, of course, you cannot achieve the enormous theoretical transmission rates of the company’s full-fledged 5G modems. The current Snapdragon X70 can work with up to 10 gigabits/s downstream. With the Snapdragon X35, Qualcomm also only supports 5G standalone networks and not the 5G non-standalone networks that are still widely used in this country, which is still based on LTE as the network core.

Among other things, the Snapdragon X35 also integrates support for position determination using GNSS in dual-band operation on the L1 and L5 bands, i.e. high-precision location determination. The main purpose of the new Qualcomm modem is to ensure that switching to 5G networks is cheaper, and therefore faster and easier, even with smaller or simpler devices than smartphones.

This gives notebook users the opportunity to get smaller devices with 5G capability, where the cellular modem no longer necessarily costs hundreds of euros more. In addition, inexpensive products such as smartwatches or XR headsets can now optionally be equipped with a comparatively inexpensive 4G/5G modem. In addition, Qualcomm also wants to see the modem housed in various IoT devices.

The availability of the first commercial products with the Snapdragon X35 modem is expected in early 2024, while preparations are currently underway for the production of samples for interested parties from the industry.