5G takes another step closer to reality

The mobile industry is working its way towards 5G, the next generation of mobile networks, and it’s taken another step closer with the launch of the Qualcomm Snapdragon X20 LTE modem. 

It may not be a sexy new smartphone or wacky wearable, but the X20 is an important milestone in the journey to 5G, as it’s able to deliver speeds of up to 1.2 Gigabits to your smartphone. 

Those are fibre optic levels of download speeds without the need for a wired connection, although smartphones packing the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem won’t see that top level in the real world.


The X20 is Qualcomm’s second generation Gigabit modem, following on from the X16 which achieved a top download speed of 1Gbps. The X20 represents a 20% increase over the previous model then, but more importantly it brings additional flexibility. 

More carriers will be supported, with the X20 able to work with a more diverse range of spectrum which unlocks its potential to more operators around the world.

That means we’re likely to see fewer region variants of devices, as manufacturers will be able to ship the same spec to multiple locations in the knowledge they will work with the local spectrum frequencies. 

While the theoretical download speed supported by the X20 is impressive, our mobile operators are still a few years away from being able to deliver the high-speed experience to our handsets – but for now 5G is still on track for a 2020 arrival.

Don't get too carried away just yet, as the first smartphones to boast the X20 modem are due for release in early 2018 - Samsung Galaxy S9 anyone?

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.