Lenovo working on first 5G laptop with Qualcomm, coming in 2020

Lenovo will be the first laptop manufacturer to release an always-on laptop with Qualcomm.

At Mobile World Congress, Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon announced the launch of the Snapdragon 8cx 5G platform, which is designed to help PC makers integrate 5G modems like the Snapdragon X55 5G modem, into portable PCs.

At Qualcomm’s press conference Amon said: “I’m very proud to announce that today Lenovo, world leaders in enterprise, are working with Qualcomm on the first 5G PC with 8cx.”

Lenovo spokespeople confirmed this, telling Trusted Reviews that the inaugural 8cx device is due to arrive early next year.

“The way people connect, work and play is evolving, and with the advent of 5G, connectivity will be even more important in driving the next wave of smart, personalized computing experiences,” said senior vice president and general manager of Lenovo Intelligent Devices Group’s consumer PCs and smart devices group Johnson Jia.

“In collaboration with Qualcomm, we’re excited to be the first to deliver a 5G connected PC with the Snapdragon 8cx 5G compute platform in early 2020.

“This new generation of smart PCs that will offer artificial intelligence, high performance, long battery life and always-on connectivity has the promise of enabling better, faster and more seamless experiences for consumers, small businesses and large enterprises.”

The so-called ACPC (‘always-on connected PC’) idea isn’t new. Trusted Reviews last year spent some time with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 850 reference design laptops which promised a similar thing – and the results were mixed.

Regardless of any device performance issues, the huge leap in bandwidth, latency and power management promises to make 5G in laptops a much more viable thing. Qualcomm is promising top download speeds of 7Gbps over 5G and 2.5Gbps over 4G with the X55, as well as more effective power management.

“Our platforms were the first to bring gigabit, and now multi-gigabit LTE to the PC,” says Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager for mobile at Qualcomm. “We also brought multi-day battery life to the PC, and with the Snapdragon 8cx 5G compute platform, we innovate once again to bring the best of our computing and connectivity technologies into a single platform to modernize the enterprise.”

Related: 5G phones

It’s expected that the first phones and laptops bearing Snapdragon X55 modems will arrive in the latter half of 2019, and if this as-of-yet unnamed Lenovo 5G is coming later, we can expect more always-on 5G laptops to follow suit.

Qualcomm says that it’s working with other PC manufacturers on Snapdragon 8cx 5G , but it has so far declined to drop any more names. Asus, HP, and Samsung, have all worked with Qualcomm on Snapdragon laptops before, but nothing else can been confirmed so far.

In terms of where in the UK you’d actually be able to use these effectively, that depends on network rollout and spectrum auctions. EE, O2, Three and Vodafone have all bid for slices of the airwaves and are in the process of firming up 5G launch plans.

Telecoms regulator Ofcom expects to auction off parts of the 3.6-3.8GHz bands – known as the ‘Sub-6GHz’ bands, along with the already-licensed bits of the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz frequencies – later this year.

How does the concept of a 5G laptop grab you? Do you yearn to be liberated from the yoke of free coffee shop WiFi, or are you going to wait until the networks announce price plans? Let us know @TrustedReviews.

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