Hold on to your data contracts: Qualcomm's latest modem chip will enable mobile devices to achieve LTE download speeds of up to 1Gbps. Now you just need to find a network that can support it. The new Snapdragon X16 modem offers what are known as Category 16 LTE download speeds. For normal humans, that means it can provide speeds of up to 1Gbps — two or three times faster than most modern smartphones, which tend to top out at either 300Mbps or 450Mbps. The new chip will also let you upload at speeds of up to 150Mbps.
The X16 chip doesn't use extra chunks of spectrum to send data faster, like devices have done in the past. Instead it just makes better use of what's available to it, using some fancy signal processing to squeeze more streams of data into the same old 20 MHz slices of spectrum your current phone makes use of. You can read more about the details in Qualcomm's release.
For now, the new chips will only be available as separate modems to be used alongside existing system-on-a-chip hardware — for what it's worth, Apple uses Snapdragon modems alongside its silicon. But you can probably expect a new Snapdragon chipset to feature the hardware later in the year, too.
All of which is great, though how easy it will be to make use of the speed bump is quite another matter. Only a very few LTE networks would provide anywhere near 1Gbps speeds just yet — so it's an investment in the future, rather than the present.
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