Wearables Stock Dreamstime Kamachi209 Web

Qualcomm’s X35 Modem to Usher in New Class of 5G Devices

Feb. 13, 2023
The Snapdragon X35 will apparently be the world’s first baseband modem to support the 5G NR-Light standard.

Bringing 5G out of the realm of high-end smartphones, Qualcomm’s new cellular modem is tailored for everything from augmented-reality (AR) glasses and wearables to mass-tier PCs and fixed-wireless-access equipment.

The Snapdragon X35, which debuted this month, supports a whole new class of 5G that promises to strike a balance of speed and power efficiency suited for small-form-factor intelligent edge devices from entry-level to premium.

5G NR-Light refers to a new class of 5G devices that fills the gap between high-end mobile phones and very low-bandwidth NB-IoT devices (Table 1). First introduced in Release 17 of the global 5G standard, Qualcomm said 5G NR-Light is targeted at more mid-tier devices where cost, battery life, and footprint take priority over speed, playing the same role as the LTE Cat4+ standard today (Table 2).

According to the company, the X35 “provides device makers with a long-term migration path to replace LTE Cat4+ devices” at a lower cost, “ultimately increasing 5G adoption and allowing for faster transition to a unified 5G network.”

The Snapdragon X35 is set to become the first modem chip on the market to support 5G NR-Light when it starts sampling in the first half of this year and shipping in early 2024. The company said it cut out excess features from the underlying architecture to make it more compact, less costly, and less power-hungry than its existing 5G modems, which are today at the heart of many high-end smartphones, including Apple’s iPhone.

The modem delivers data rates of up to 220 MB/s, a fraction of the company’s flagship X70 modem featuring speeds of up to 10 GB/s. Upload speeds top out at 100 MB/s, according to Qualcomm. Since it supports both 4G LTE and sub-6-GHz 5G, the modem promises to be both backwards compatible and future-proof.

The X35 is “poised to power the next wave of connected intelligent edge devices,” said Durga Malladi, senior vice president and general manager of cellular modems and infrastructure at Qualcomm.

Featuring up to 20 MHz of bandwidth in the sub-6-GHz range, the modem supports up to a pair of antennas and is tightly integrated with Qualcomm’s RF front-end technologies, including power amplifiers (PAs) and other chips.

The X35 includes dual-frequency GNSS (L1+L5) for global positioning. The modem can handle all major frequency bands used in 5G, including within the sub-6-GHz, FDD, TDD, and half-duplex FDD (HD-FDD) bands. The chip also supports VoNR and VoLTE for voice calling.

In addition to the X35, Qualcomm announced a second 5G modem called X32—it’s suited for even more compact IoT devices that require higher levels of power efficiency and tighter limits on heat dissipation.

Customer sampling of the Snapdragon X35 and X32 modems is set to begin at some point in the first half of 2023, with the first products featuring the chips due to hit the market by the first half of 2024.

Sponsored Recommendations


To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Electronic Design, create an account today!