In another step toward bringing 5G devices to consumers, Qualcomm on Thursday announced 19 handset makers worldwide agreed to use the Snapdragon X50 5G NR modem in their devices starting in 2019.
Asus, HMD Global, HTC, LG, NetComm Wireless, Netgear, Oppo, Sierra Wireless, Sony Mobile, vivo, Xiamoi and ZTE were among the companies to sign on to use Qualcomm’s modems.
The world’s three leading smartphone vendors — Apple, Huawei and Samsung — were not on the list, although Qualcomm and Samsung last week announced a “multi-year strategic relationship” that will extend through the transition to 5G. Public statements by Qualcomm’s president, Cristiano Amon, on Twitter Thursday also indicate Qualcomm is working with Samsung on 5G device launches.
Earlier reports suggested Apple might drop Qualcomm chips entirely from its iPhones in favor of using Intel chips. The companies are tangled in an ongoing patent-licensing dispute, which started with Apple’s $1 billion lawsuit against Qualcomm early last year.
Additionally, Qualcomm named 18 carrier partners who will utilize Qualcomm’s 5G mobile test platform and smartphone reference design, which incorporate the Snapdragon X50 chipset, for trials later this year in sub-6 GHz and millimeter wave spectrum bands. U.S. operators Verizon, AT&T and Sprint each signed on.
AT&T has said it will be the first to launch mobile 5G service in the U.S. this year.
“2018 will be a big year for Qualcomm Technologies and the mobile industry overall as we work to execute on the agreed-upon 5G NR specification,” Cristiano Amon, president of Qualcomm Inc., said in a statement. “These trials demonstrate how we are working with global operators to fuel growth and innovation in the mobile industry and make 5G a reality by supporting a large number of expected commercial launches in 2019.”
As Qualcomm pushes ahead with 5G commercialization efforts, the company announced yesterday it completed 5G NR interoperability testing with Nokia in the 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz band. The tests used Nokia’s AirScale base station and Qualcomm 5G NR UE device prototypes.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Qualcomm and Samsung are working together on 5G device launches.