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Snapdragon X16: Future smartphones could download 4K movies in minutes

As file sizes balloon in the wake of 4K video, internet speeds certainly have some catching up to do.

Qualcomm has unveiled a new smartphone modem that supports breakneck download speeds of up to 1Gbps.

That means a 4K movie – estimated at 100GB average file size – could be downloaded in just over 13 minutes. And a Blu-ray movie, which averages at around 20GB, could arrive in a quarter of that time.

The Gigabit modem in question is the Snapdragon X16, Qualcomm’s sixth-generation LTE chipset. It’s built using a highly efficient 14nm FinFET manufacturing processor, and supports “fibre-like” LTE Category 16 download speeds.

That’s more advanced than the Cat.6 modem featured in the iPhone 6S. It’s also better than the X12 modem built into the Snapdragon 820 chip, which will give many of this year’s flagship smartphones Cat.12 LTE support (600Mbps downlink). Both the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG G5 are rumoured to use the chip.

Check out the launch video below:

Qualcomm is a market leader in smartphone chip manufacturing, and supplies many phone-makers with components.

Notably, Apple devices often ship with Qualcomm modems, most recently seen featured in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S.

As such, there’s a chance we may see the Snapdragon X16 LTE modem appear in a future iteration of the iPhone.

“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,” says Cristiano Amon, executive VP of Qualcomm Technologies.

Amon adds: “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 ever faster and smoother user experience.”

It’s worth noting, however, that having a smartphone with an X16 built-in does not guarantee Gigabit speeds.

You’ll also need a network carrier that offers those sorts of speeds, which isn’t likely to happen for a couple of years in the UK.

After all, it took around two years for UK networks to catch up with Qualcomm’s 300Mbps Gobi LTE 9×35 modem.

Fortunately, the Snapdragon X16 LTE modem is already sampling with manufacturers now, with the first products featuring the chip “expected in the second half of 2016”.

Tell us what your thoughts on this news in the comments below.

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