Qualcomm Reveals Breakthrough 5G Antenna Technology Designated for Smartphones.
There has been a lot of skepticism with Oneplus’ and Huawei’s announcement to make a 5G smartphone in 2019 with other groundbreaking technologies like the Onscreen fingerprint sensor. Mainly because the 5G technology was still too big to fit into a regular sized modern smartphone. Qualcomm’s initial 5G modem and millimeter wave antennas, which it showed off in a YouTube video in early 2017, were so large, they had to be wheeled around on a cart. The challenge was to produce eligible millimeter wave antennas that are small enough that can fit inside modern smartphones. That bridge has been crossed today. Qualcomm announced today Monday that it has been able to create the QTM052, a 5G antenna chip which capable of operating at the high frequencies required for 5G. This breakthrough technology now makes the design of a 5G smartphone actually feasible.
Qualcomm unveiled its new QTM052 millimeter wave and QPM56xx sub-6GHz radio frequency antenna module families. They work alongside the chip maker’s Snapdragon X50 5G to bring superfast network speeds to smartphones.
“This is a bona fide breakthrough,” Sherif Hanna, Qualcomm’s director of product marketing, said in an interview ahead of the news. “The payoff for using millimeter wave, especially in densely populated areas, is huge.”
Next-gen 5G millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum operates at a higher frequency than 4G technology, providing increased bandwidth and this makes more room available for connections at extremely fast speeds and low latency. This technology has had a lot of issues up until this point. for example, it operates at very high frequencies and doesn’t travel as far. It is also very easily blocked, so if you put your hands on the antenna it would block signal completely. It’s also finicky, easily bouncing off surfaces. For instance, a truck passing by while you walked down the street could potentially block the signal.
Qualcomm’s solution for this issue was to use multiple mmWave antennas, which up until now, would have been impossible to fit inside of a smartphone. Each module of the announced chips has about eight to 12 antennas, and phone makers likely would embed three of the modules in their devices (though the X50 modem could handle up to four). They’d spread the chips out across the device so the phone could always get a signal from one of the others were covered by a hand or any barrier.
Qualcomm said that the modules will show up in hotspot devices later this year and in smartphones in the first half of 2019. The potential peak download speed could be up to 5Gbps for the millimeter wave variant, though the more realistic speed you’ll see in phones is closer to 1.4Gbps, Qualcomm said. That’s much faster than today’s 4G, which is about 70Mbps, and even faster than the sub-6GHz’s expected speeds of 400Mbps to 500Mbps, the company noted.