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Snapdragon 855 will technically offer 5G…when paired with a 5G modem

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 will be the chip manufacturer’s next flagship platform. With a 2019 release expected, the biggest question is whether the platform will bring support for 5G. Well now the company’s addressed the issue, and it seems the answer’s a little complicated. 

Initially, there were rumours that the 855, the successor to this year’s Snapdragon 845, would not support 5G connectivity. This came from the company’s Principal Engineer/Manager Ahmed Saifuddin who’s said that the 855 SoC will feature a ‘Hercules Modem’ — aka a 7nm X24 LTE modem.

In other words, this suggested that it wasn’t possible to integrate the previously announced 10nm 5G X50 modem directly onto the Snapdragon 855 SoC.

It’s this report that Qualcomm’s announcement today is seemingly is response to, but the company doesn’t technically deny its claims.

Instead, Qualcomm’s press release says that the “upcoming flagship mobile platform” 7nm SoC (which is almost certainly the Snapdragon 855) “can be paired with” the 5G X50 modem.

Although the fact that Qualcomm doesn’t refer to the platform by name makes the announcement a little hard to unpack, it sounds as though it will be left to phone manufacturers themselves to decide whether they want to pair the Snapdragon 855 with a separate compatible 5G modem.

Related: Best smartphones 2018

Growing pains

With 5G not expected to widely roll out until 2020, next year will be very early to start rolling out devices that support the next generation of mobile internet.

We’re anticipating that problems like this won’t be uncommon, as manufacturers race to include 5G connectivity in their latest products. It will likely take a while longer before we see platforms built from the ground up to support 5G.

At any rate, the usefulness of 5G will be up for debate until we see how wide coverage is across the world. There’s little use paying a big price premium for a device when you can only unlock 5G speeds in very specific locations.

What do you want to see from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855? Let us know @TrustedReviews.

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