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article imageNew Qualcomm chip makes 1Gbps LTE a reality, coming this year

By James Walker     Feb 12, 2016 in Technology
Qualcomm has introduced three new mid-range mobile processors set to power smartphones released later in the year. The chips are its fastest yet in the segment but have been overshadowed by a new LTE modem with gigabit speeds.
Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 625, Snapdragon 435 and Snapdragon 425 in a press release yesterday. These won't set any performance records but are still capable processors with the same power as the flagships of just a few years ago.
The Snapdragon 625 is an octa-core chip that will run happily at 2GHz. It supports cameras up to 24-megapixels and 4K video capture. According to Qualcomm, it uses 35 percent less power than last year's Snapdragon 617. Phones should last longer on a charge while benefitting from greater performance.
The Snapdragon 435 isn't as fully-featured as the 625 but remains a competent processor. Its eight cores run at 1.4GHz and can be used to run cameras with sensors of resolutions up to 21-megapixels. The cheapest option of the trio, the 425, is a 1.4GHz quad-core chip which supports cameras up to 16-megapixels.
All three processors include support for Qualcomm's Quick Charge technology to rapidly refuel a battery in just a few minutes. The 625 and 435 feature Quick Charge 3.0 while the lesser 425 makes do with the older Quick Charge 2.0 standard.
Data speeds are respectable across the range. The Snapdragon 425 has Qualcomm's X6 LTE modem for download speeds of up to 150Mbps and uploads up to 75Mbps. The 435 uses the newer X8 LTE modem with download speeds of up to 300Mbps and uploads up to 100Mbps while the range-topping 625 supports the 4G+-compatible X9 LTE, boosting upload speeds to 150Mbps.
These modems are capable chips when operating on today's networks but the LTE of the future may demand something even faster. Qualcomm has already developed a solution, unveiling the X16 LTE this week alongside the new Snapdragon processors.
The X16 is the industry's first LTE modem to support gigabit speeds, providing a downlink rate of up to 1Gbps and uplink of up to 150Mbps. This kind of transfer rate isn't yet offered by any mobile provider so currently means little to consumers but is an important step forward in the progression of 4G LTE and 5G.
"In addition to serving as a significant milestone for the mobile industry, the Snapdragon X16 LTE modem is a powerful testament to Qualcomm Technologies’ continued technology leadership in all things wireless," said Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm executive vice president and president of its semiconductor division QCT.
"Not only does the Snapdragon X16 blur the lines between wired and wireless broadband, but marks an important step toward 5G as we enable deeper unlicensed spectrum integration with LTE and more advanced MIMO techniques to support growing data consumption and deliver an even faster and smoother user experience."
The new processors and modem should begin to find their way into phones from the second half of 2016. The Snapdragon 625, 435 and 425 are destined for new mid-range devices but the X16 LTE modem is likely to only appear paired with premium chips, such as the Snapdragon 820, initially.
Qualcomm said the progress it has made in mid-range processors will give more consumers access to "better experiences, higher performance and longer battery life." Qualcomm's reputation as one of the largest mobile chip manufacturers makes it likely they'll be used widely in 2016's smartphones.
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