Intel doesn’t want to fall behind as the rest of the mobile industry prepares for next-generation connectivity. The chipmaker, which battles it out with Qualcomm as a global supplier, announced that it’ll release a 5G-enabled modem in the second half of 2019. Most U.S. carriers are set to flip the switch next year, but Intel’s original plan was to roll out the XMM 8160 modem in 2020.
The XMM 8160 modem will unlock data speeds of up to 6 gigabits per second. By that estimate, you’re looking at as much as six times the speed of what 4G accomplishes today.
If you’re in a location where 5G hasn’t arrived yet, Intel’s modem comes prepared. It includes the necessary radios for 4G, 3G, and 2G. The smartphones and tablets with the XMM 8160 modem aren’t required to use a separate unit for legacy networks.
Check out how Intel’s XMM 8160 modem is designed:
Still, you won’t see any smartphones or tablets in 2019 with the XMM 8160 modem. Intel and its partners are expected to begin shipping 5G-enabled devices in 2020, but that opens an opportunity for Qualcomm to get ahead and win significant orders.
Apple’s collaborating with Intel on a similar 5G-enabled modem. The Cupertino-based company isn’t satisfied with the XMM 8160 modem, but Intel’s developing the 8161 specifically for future iPhone models. It should be available on the iPhone first.
The XMM 8160 modem could also be used for laptops, desktops, and routers. Most companies are trying to push 5G as a widespread technology rather than something for mobile devices alone.
Be on the lookout for 5G-enabled devices in early 2019. There could be a handful of compatible flagships that go official during CES in January and MWC in February. Then they’ll ship sometime in the spring.