Qualcomm unveils the first 10-gigabit 5G modem

Not that you'll likely use those speeds in the near future.


Qualcomm just reached a milestone in wireless data — if mostly a symbolic one. The company has unveiled the X65, what it says is the “world’s first” 10-gigabit 5G modem. While that’s not hugely faster than the 7.5Gbps of the X60, it promises a speed that was previously reserved for Ethernet and other wired connections.

The X65 also boasts some helpful functional improvements, including AI-based antenna tuning that better responds to hand grips. You’ll also find better power-saving measures and a newer “Smart Transmit” system that boots upload speeds and overall coverage.

The X65 is currently sampling to customers and should reach shipping devices in 2021, although Qualcomm didn’t name customers. Don’t count on it reaching many phones, at least not at first. This is currently a discrete part that will chew up more space and battery. Android phones are more likely to stick with modems built into their systems-on-chip, like the X60 built into the Snapdragon 888. While it will support “premium smartphone experiences,” you’re more likely to see it used in laptops, fixed 5G broadband or similar areas where a separate modem isn’t an issue.

There’s a larger question, too: will you ever find a network that offers 10Gbps speeds while the X65 is still relevant? Even those carriers that tout very high-speed 5G, such as Verizon (Engadget’s parent company), haven’t delivered more than around 4Gbps in ideal conditions. You might not see 10Gbps in the real world until the X65 is old or simply obsolete. It’s an important achievement, but one that might not be practical for a long while.