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
55 months ago
aaaaaaaaaand throttled.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nutmac Avatar
55 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
55 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
55 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
55 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
55 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

apple music change forever

Apple Music Teaser: 'Get Ready – Music is About to Change Forever'

Sunday May 16, 2021 2:39 pm PDT by
The Browse tab in the Music app across Apple's platforms has started displaying a prominent teaser hinting at an upcoming major announcement for Apple Music. Under the heading "Coming soon," the headline says "Get ready – music is about to change forever." An accompanying "Tune-In Video" simply shows an animated Apple Music logo. Rumors have indicated that Apple is preparing to launch a...
m1 ipad pro early customer

M1 iPad Pro Arrives Early for Lucky Customer

Saturday May 15, 2021 11:57 pm PDT by
Days ahead of their expected launch and seemingly before official review embargoes lift, one lucky customer has already gotten their hands on the brand new 12.9-inch M1 iPad Pro. Reddit User PeterDragon50 Posted on Reddit, u/PeterDragon50 has already received their 12.9-inch iPad Pro through retailer Nebraska Furniture Mart. The Reddit user says they placed their order when pre-orders...
2021 mbp hdmi slot 3d

2021 MacBook Pro Leaks Confirm Returning MagSafe and Ports

Friday May 14, 2021 3:06 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming MacBook Pro models are expected to feature a number of major changes such as larger display options and powerful new Apple silicon chips. Among the more surprising updates to this year's MacBook Pro models is the return of three ports that have been missing from the machines for over five years. Expected to come in 14- and 16-inch sizes, the 2021 MacBook Pro models are...
Twitter Feature

Twitter's 'Blue' Subscription Service May Cost $2.99, Will Offer Undo Tweet Option

Saturday May 15, 2021 11:08 am PDT by
Twitter has been working on some kind of subscription service since last summer, and Jane Manchun Wong, who often digs into new features coming in apps, has shared details on just what Twitter is exploring. Twitter's subscription service could be called Twitter Blue, and at the current time, it's priced at $2.99 per month. There will be a "Collections" section that allows users to save and...
AirPods Lineup Not Lossless Feature

AirPods, AirPods Max and AirPods Pro Don't Support Apple Music Lossless Audio

Monday May 17, 2021 10:44 am PDT by
Apple today announced that starting in June, Apple Music songs will be available to stream in Lossless and Hi-Resolution Lossless formats, but lossless audio won't be supported on the AirPods, AirPods Max, or AirPods Pro. Apple's Lossless Audio is encoded as Apple Lossless Audio Codec files, with lossless quality ranging from 16-bit 44.1 kHz playback to 24-bit 48 kHz playback and Hi-Res...
Top Stories 60 Feature

Top Stories: M1 iMac Benchmarks, iPhone Battery Life Tips, Colorful MacBook Air?

Saturday May 15, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
Anticipation is building for the new iMac and iPad Pro models, which have started shipping out ahead of a launch around May 21. Benchmarks for the new machines are starting to come in, and the M1 chips inside of them are registering at around the same figures seen with other M1-based Macs, making for significant upgrades over previous-generation models. This week also saw some rumors about...
apple music spatial audio

Apple Music Launching Spatial Audio With Dolby Atmos and Lossless Audio in June at No Extra Cost

Monday May 17, 2021 6:06 am PDT by
Apple today announced that Apple Music will be gaining support for Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos at no additional cost starting in June. At launch, Apple Music subscribers will have access to thousands of songs in Spatial Audio from artists like J Balvin, Gustavo Dudamel, Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Kacey Musgraves, The Weeknd, and many others. Apple says this feature will provide a...
General Music and AirPod 3 Feature

Rumor: Apple to Announce Third-Generation AirPods and HiFi Apple Music Tier on May 18

Thursday May 13, 2021 10:32 pm PDT by
A new rumor suggests that Apple will announce the third-generation AirPods and the recently rumored HiFi, or high-fidelity Apple Music tier, on Tuesday, May 18, via a press release on its website. The new rumor comes from Apple YouTuber Luke Miani who shared the alleged exclusive news with the AppleTrack website. According to the YouTuber, Apple plans to release the next-generation AirPods...
apple music logo

Apple Music Teaser References 'Hi-Res Lossless' and 'Dolby Atmos'

Sunday May 16, 2021 4:04 pm PDT by
Earlier today, Apple Music began teasing a special announcement with the tagline "Get Ready – Music is About to Change Forever." This teaser comes amid a rumor that Apple is preparing to announce the third-generation AirPods alongside a HiFi, or lossless audio streaming tier for Apple Music on Tuesday, May 18. Now, references to "Apple Lossless," "Free Lossless," "Hi-Res Lossless," and...
tile amazon sidewalk integration

Apple Says Tile Trackers Sold Poorly in Apple Stores

Friday May 14, 2021 4:53 am PDT by
Earlier last month, Spotify, Tile, and Match (owner of Tinder), testified at an app store antitrust hearing spearheaded by the U.S. Senate. During the hearing, Spotify called Apple's App Store "an abusive power grab," while Tile said Apple uses its platform to "unfairly limit competition for its products." Now, in response to their testimonies, Apple's vice president and chief compliance...