Qualcomm’s X75 and X35 Modem Announcements
by Daniel Newman | February 22, 2023

The Six Five team discusses Qualcomm’s X75 and X35 modem announcements:

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Daniel Newman: Yeah. Qualcomm has had a very, very successful run of unquestionably leading at the premium tier. However, one of the opportunity areas, or you could call it a challenge if you want to be more frank about it for the company, has been playing and competing in that sort of mid-range space, competing along the likes of, say, media tech. Though, Qualcomm said…well, they didn’t just say. This week, they basically made some announcements of its newest X seven series, 75, and goes along with its X72 5G modem RF system, basically focused on 5G millimeter wave sub six includes the satellite feature, which is pretty cool. I did a pod with the GM, Durga Melodi on that particular topic. But incorporating a lot of those kind of advanced features, it’s got not only 5G advanced, but it’s got the tensor accelerator for 5G. It’s got the AI processing power.

And in the end what it really came down to was Qualcomm wanted to come out with a product that says, “Hey, across the line, its massive line of partnerships of the US, the global OEMs across China,” it says, “We want to be able to make sure that Qualcomm modems and Qualcomm systems are inside all or as many of the different designs as possible,” and so for the company, I fundamentally believe this was a, we want to clearly define that we have the top premium tier and now we’re going to go for the rest of it. This isn’t a new series. They’ve had a seven series. It just hasn’t necessarily been feature-rich enough to displace some of the media tech based devices in that mid-range tier. I think that’s really what they’re coming after here. Stronger performance, a lot of weight here going into AI.

Of course, Pat, you talk a little bit at times about Skyworks and Qorvo, but one thing that Qualcomm has done extremely well is their 5G RF modem and systems. This is something that I believe they’re really leaning into as they’re sort of selling this story, is effectively you’re getting near ultra premium experiences, and they’re enabling them for the tier down. And so Pat, while I’d love to kind of ramble on about it, for me, it’s a pretty straightforward shot of news here. It’s a good move for the company. There’s a lot of markets share there, especially outside of the USA, where there’s a lot more sales of these mid, mid-range, and lower tier smart devices from companies like Samsung, OPPO, Xiaomi, and others. I think this will be a successful product for Qualcomm to continue to expand its market share.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, I mean, this is essentially Qualcomm flexing, particularly on the modem side, essentially saying, “Hey, no one can match us on modem.” If you need the best, you have to take Qualcomm. Qualcomm has made an incredible business about that. Couple quick features. Obviously it supports release 16, release 17, but it’s also ready for 5G advanced, which is revision 18.

Some pretty cool use cases are doing an AI on the modem RF combination leveraging tensor acceleration, which is pretty cool. The other thing is the first converge millimeter wave subs transceiver architecture, essentially means one chip for that. That means lower PCBs, typically means lower power and less hassle for the ODMs and OEMs. I can’t help but to think, Apple, how do you compete with this? Apple’s been working on a 5G modem for I think four years, going on five years. Where is this thing? You would’ve expected it to pop up in at least the iPad because it’s a little bit easier on devices that don’t have voice. You have to deal with less complexity. But where is this thing? Here we have 5G advanced coming up. Are Apple’s modems going to have this special feature and support for release 18? I have no idea.

In the X35, just kind of caboose-ing on you, called NR Light, which is red cap, which is in release 17, and how it goes into these IOT use cases that require lower power, and quite frankly, don’t all require a millimeter wave. Millimeter wave is important in elements like the industrial IOT when it comes to performance and latency. But when you think about, let’s say, 50,000 sensors on a pipeline, it’s not necessarily about having the lowest latency. It’s about having the lowest power with a sufficient amount of performance.

As for folks like Qorvo and Skyworks, I think in particular Skyworks has shown its ability to work and solve problems, particularly for Apple related to its RF working with Qualcomm’s subsystem. I’m interested to see what the company aligns on the RF side with the new X75.

Daniel Newman: That’s a good call out too, by the way, on the X35. I missed that, but the company’s leaning big time into the IOT space and so having those specific solutions deserve their own call.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, totally.

About the Author

Daniel Newman is the Chief Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. Read Full Bio