Qualcomm's and Intel's Latest LTE Modems for Smartphones Exceed Gigabit Speeds

Ahead of Mobile World Congress next week, Qualcomm and Intel have separately announced the latest LTE modems for smartphones with theoretical download speeds exceeding so-called "Gigabit LTE," aka 1 Gbps. Apple sources LTE modems for iPhones from both chipmakers.

Qualcomm Snapdragon X20
Qualcomm's new Snapdragon X20 modem is the first-announced modem to support Category 18 download speeds up to an ultra fast 1.2 Gbps, with Category 13 upload speeds of up to 150 Mbps. That builds upon Qualcomm's Snapdragon X16, which has a peak download speed of 1 Gbps.

Qualcomm said the Snapdragon X20, built on a leading-edge 10nm FinFET process, supports more combinations of LTE carriers and a higher number of total LTE spatial streams. This "vastly expanded flexibility" will for more operators around the world to deploy Gigabit LTE in the future.

Qualcomm said the first products with the Snapdragon X20 modem are expected to be available in the first half of 2018.

Intel's new XMM 7560 modem [PDF] supports LTE Advanced Pro for up to Category 16 download speeds "exceeding" 1 Gbps, and Category 13 upload speeds of up to 225 Mbps. The XMM 7560 modem is Intel's fifth-generation LTE modem, and the first to be manufactured based on its 14nm process.

Intel said the XMM 7560 modem is expected to sample in the first half of this year and move into production soon afterward.

Both modems support 5x carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO configurations, up to 256-QAM, and other technologies. Both chips also work with a number of cellular technologies, covering most LTE, CDMA, and GSM standards, meaning that equipped smartphones will be usable on most networks around the world.

Overall, Qualcomm appears to remain a step ahead of Intel, but it's a rather moot point for now given that Australian carrier Telstra currently has the only Gigabit LTE network in the world. There are also no Gigabit LTE-capable smartphones, although the first ones are expected to be announced at Mobile World Congress next week.

Nevertheless, the broader availability of Gigabit LTE is on the horizon. More smartphones will inevitably support the faster speeds in the future, while AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile are all testing or plan to deploy Gigabit LTE this year in the United States, on the bigger path towards next-generation 5G networking.

But even then, it is important to remember these are just theoretical speeds. In the latest OpenSignal testing, based on aggregated data from nearly 170,000 smartphone users, average LTE download speeds at AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile ranged between 8 Mbps and 17 Mbps—a far cry from 1 Gbps.

Apple could theoretically include the Snapdragon X20 or Intel XMM 7560 in a future iPhone, thereby making it a Gigabit LTE-capable smartphone, but it may elect to wait until more networks are up to speed.

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are equipped with Qualcomm's Snapdragon X12 or Intel's XMM 7360 depending on the model. The X12 has a theoretical peak download speed of up to 600 Mbps, while the XMM 7360 reaches up to 450 Mbps. Qualcomm models were unsurprisingly found to be faster in subsequent testing.

Top Rated Comments

farewelwilliams Avatar
49 months ago
aaaaaaaaaand throttled.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nutmac Avatar
49 months ago

So what? Anything beyond 20 Mbit/s/user is pretty much useless on a mobile device.

Why is that?

I occasionally get around 100 Mbps and it's hugely different from 20-40 Mbps that I typically get.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WestonHarvey1 Avatar
49 months ago

Cool, at that speed I can hit my 22GB soft cap on my "unlimited" plan in less than 3 minutes before I am throttled down to 4G speeds.

The extra speed doesn't suddenly make you download more data than you ordinarily do.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Wowereit Avatar
49 months ago
So what? Anything beyond 20 Mbit/s/user is pretty much useless on a mobile device.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dominiongamma Avatar
49 months ago

So what? Anything beyond 20 Mbit/s/user is pretty much useless on a mobile device.

Sounds like people are trying to justify the speeds they are getting is good enough, I get 70-80 Mbps and it's much faster.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
keysofanxiety Avatar
49 months ago

So what? Anything beyond 20 Mbit/s/user is pretty much useless on a mobile device.

People said the same about Gigabit wireless speeds on laptops. The point is that today's "good enough" doesn't offer anything for tomorrow.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

m1 chip macbook air pro

Kuo: Redesigned MacBooks With Apple Silicon to Launch in Second Half of 2021

Tuesday November 24, 2020 7:53 pm PST by
Apple plans to release additional MacBook models with Apple Silicon in the second half of 2021, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, as part of the company's two-year transition away from Intel processors across its Mac lineup. In a research note today, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo said that these MacBook models will feature a new design. Kuo did not specify which models these will be, but he...
Apple Watc black friday 20 sale feature

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best Apple Watch Deals [Updated]

Wednesday November 25, 2020 4:01 pm PST by
Black Friday sales have begun on a variety of products, including the Apple Watch. There are quite a few deals across the Apple Watch lineup this year, including one of the lowest price we've ever seen the Apple Watch Series 3. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the...
AirPods Pro black friday 20 sale feature 2

Black Friday 2020: AirPods Pro Reach Lowest Price Ever [Updated]

Wednesday November 25, 2020 3:22 pm PST by
Black Friday has kicked off this week, and one of the first major sales for the AirPods Pro is available right now on Walmart. You can find this deal below, along with a few other solid discounts on the regular AirPods. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site...
13 16 inch macbook pro air trio

Reliable Leaker Suggests Redesigned MacBooks in 2021 Will Include Both Apple Silicon and Intel Models

Wednesday November 25, 2020 9:15 am PST by
Reliable leaker known as "L0vetodream" has today suggested on Twitter that redesigned MacBooks coming in the second half of 2021 will include models with both Apple Silicon chips and Intel processors. The brief Tweet came in response to a MacRumors article from earlier today, which outlined a report from Ming-Chi Kuo claiming that Apple plans to release redesigned MacBook models with Apple ...
mac mini macbook pro macbook air

Apple M1 Hands-On Comparison: MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro vs. Mac Mini

Monday November 23, 2020 3:40 pm PST by
Apple's M1 Macs are out in the wild now, but ahead of the holidays, you might still be trying to figure out which one to pick up, either for yourself or as a gift for someone else. We've got all three of the new Macs available, so we thought we'd give MacRumors readers a hands-on overview of each machine in our latest YouTube video. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. ...
app store christmas icon

Apple Shutting Down App Store Connect From December 23 to December 27

Monday November 23, 2020 10:14 am PST by
Apple shuts down App Store Connect for a week around the holidays each year in an effort to give App Store staff time off from work. This year, App Store Connect will be unavailable from December 23 to December 27. With App Store Connect unavailable, Apple will not accept new apps or app updates, so all pricing changes and new app submissions need to be locked in before those dates for...
iPads black friday 20 sale feature

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best iPad Deals [Updated]

Tuesday November 24, 2020 8:51 am PST by
Black Friday is underway, and we're tracking discounts across Apple's lineup of iPads, including the current-generation 10.2-inch iPad, iPad Air, and iPad Pro. We'll be keeping this post updated as new deals appear and current ones expire, so be sure to keep checking back for the latest. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a...
Target November Deals 1

Black Friday Spotlight: Target Begins Week-Long Sale With Deals on iPhone 12, Powerbeats Pro, and More

Monday November 23, 2020 8:07 am PST by
We've been tracking early Black Friday deals in our dedicated Black Friday Roundup, and in an effort to prepare our readers for the big shopping event we're highlighting sales store-by-store in the lead-up to November 27. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Target. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running....
new mac mini logicpro screen

M1 Macs Able to Run Up to Six External Displays Using DisplayLink

Tuesday November 24, 2020 6:53 am PST by
It is possible to run up to six external displays from the M1 Mac mini, and five external displays from the M1 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, with the aid of DisplayPort adapters, according to YouTuber Ruslan Tulupov. This far exceeds Apple's specified limits on external displays with the M1 Macs. Apple's host of new M1 Macs are not capable of supporting as many external displays as their...
2020 apple shopping event

Apple Offering Up to $150 Gift Card With Select Products on Black Friday Through Cyber Monday

Monday November 23, 2020 2:53 am PST by
Apple has announced its annual four-day shopping event, offering customers up to a $150 Apple Store gift card with the purchase of select products between Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States. The gift card values in the United States are as follows: $150 for 16-inch MacBook Pro $150 for 21.5-inch iMac $50 for 13-inch MacBook Pro $50 for MacBook Air $50 for iPhone SE,...