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5G smartphone teardowns confirm benefits of radio system integration – Electronic Products & Technology

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Global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research, using the teardown expertise of System Plus Consulting, unpacked two 5G smartphones to confirm that smartphone OEMs are extending fully integrated modem-RF system designs to support 5G and LTE implementations over their flagship devices. The teardowns analysis shows that Qualcomm’s RFFE system design covers both sub-6 Gigahertz (GHz) and Millimeter Wave (mmWave) 5G options, as well as LTE frequency bands, which will enable OEMs to efficiently and cost-effectively integrate 5G with 3G/4G into complex form factors. Such a fully integrated modem-RF system design is vital to drive wider adoption of 5G beyond the traditional smartphone market. 

“Of particular interest in these teardowns is the use of mmWave modules, which are showing signs of increasing adoption as they aim to reach markets beyond North America. The use of these modules will be even more crucial for enabling new and complex form factor designs, such as foldable phones, to support mmWave access,” states David McQueen, Research Director at ABI Research.

Smartphone OEMs favour integrated system solutions

With 5G smartphone sales expanding rapidly, the RFFE has now replaced the modem/chipset as the largest revenue growth opportunity in the industry.

“High design and RF components sourcing complexity are evident in 5G, so smartphone OEMs are seeking to favour integrated system solutions to accelerate time to market while differentiating in terms of performance and overall power consumption,” McQueen explains. “Optimizing integration between 3G/4G and 5G using a single supplier could not only provide a superior system design, enabling the production of cost-effective, smaller form factors, and low-power consuming devices, but it also has the potential to support newer features, such as 5G Carrier Aggregation (CA) and Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS). Furthermore, 5G mmWave ecosystem momentum is gathering pace as the complexity of integration in smartphones is addressed through a fully integrated and miniaturized mmWave RF module design, which appears to have already matured enough to support ultra-thin foldable smartphone designs.”

Handling the complexity of the entire cellular radio systems for OEMs can only be achieved if the modem-to-antenna system as a whole is taken into consideration, including co-existing mmWave/sub-6 RFFEs.

“However, these latest teardowns suggest signs in the industry that this approach has expanded to encompass an optimized design that now includes 4G,” McQueen points out. OEMs cannot ignore this level of integration to rationalize RFFE procurement. “Moreover, this approach ensures that OEMs’ devices can address issues such as integrating all network technologies without compromising the efficiency of the RFFE system designs and the overall device form factor. It simplifies the complex and costly sourcing processes associated with RF components, involving collaborations with multiple suppliers, which could lengthen the overall product development time and their time to market,” McQueen concludes.

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Verizon’s Galaxy S20 models are the first to get Android 11 and One UI 3.0 – The Verge

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Verizon revealed this morning that Samsung’s Galaxy S20 lineup will be the first Samsung phones to receive Android 11 and Samsung’s One UI 3.0 in the US, and now the software has already started trickling out to customers, according to Droid Life. One UI 3.0 has been in public beta for the last two months, but this marks the official release of the final software.

One UI 3.0 has the messaging, notifications and security features of Android 11, along with some add-ons specific to One UI. Samsung has added easier ways to access widgets, take screenshots, and double-tap the screen to put your phone to sleep, to name a few, but if you want a more exhaustive list of all of the One UI 3.0 changes, you can check out this roundup at Android Police.

Outside the US, the international launch of One UI 3.0 also seems to be spinning up as well. Android Police says that Samsung sent a full schedule of release dates to users in Egypt, with the flagship S20 line receiving Android 11 and One UI 3.0 some time in December, though after the US. According to the schedule, the next phones to receive the update will be the Note 20, Z Fold, Note 10, and S10 phones in January 2021. The update will take some time to hit every Samsung phone that supports it you’re using a Galaxy A10, A20 or A30S, don’t expect to see it before August.

When we reviewed Android 11 in September, we appreciated all its added features for managing the complexity of modern Android phones, but noted the possibility for fragmentation, as Google and Samsung’s takes on Android have started to diverge yet again. Samsung was known for taking a long time to release updates, like when it took five whole months to send out Android Pie. But that’s changed over the years as it’s gotten better at managing its timeline. Last year’s Android 10 update took three months to hit the first phones, and that’s what we’re seeing with Android 11 this year too.

Issues like fragmentation are important because Samsung is the largest smartphone vendor globally, and the largest producer of Android phones in the US. That means the widespread adoption of new features largely relies on the company choosing to include them in new versions of One UI. From our early preview, it seems like the most important bits of Android 11 have made it into One UI 3.0; but when it comes to Google’s other Android projects, Samsung might not have as much to gain.

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Latest Galaxy S21 Leak Reveals Samsung’s Surprising Decision – Forbes

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With Samsung expected to launch the Galaxy S21 handset in the surprisingly early month of January, the South Korean company has decided to update the design of a key area. Changes to the rear of the handsets should allow it to expand the potential power of the camera.

The new details come from the team at Let’s Go Digital. Ilse Jurrien reports:

“LetsGoDigital has received reliable information, including images, from the Galaxy S21 series. To protect our source, which is closely associated with Samsung Electronics, we regret that we cannot post these images online. The LetsGoDigital design team is currently creating highly detailed, high-resolution images, based on the information we have received. Next Monday, December 7th, we will share all the details with you!”

One of the biggest design changes comes with the camera. Thanks to the leading role that photography and imaging plays in the smartphone world, especially in flagship handsets, the capabilities of the camera lens and overall output are critical. Physics of course comes into play, and the requirements for as much space as possible means that the raised ‘camera island’ is here to stay.

Samsung is tweaking the standard look of the island by extending the Island out and around the edge of the handset. From the early renders it looks like Samsung may have found a way to make its handsets physically stand out in a sea of Android slabs. How it looks and feels in practice is going to be an interesting question to answer.

With many expecting Samsung to host a launch event for the Galaxy S21 family at the end of 2021’s Virtual CES on January 14th, we don’t have long to wait for a definitive answer on the new look. 

Now read about the possible cancellation of the Galaxy Note series…

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Qualcomm details connectivity, AI and performance benefits of new Snapdragon 888 – MobileSyrup

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Qualcomm kicked off the first day of its 2020 Snapdragon Tech Summit by announcing its latest Snapdragon 888 mobile platform. Initially light on details, Qualcomm hosted another live stream on Day two of the Tech Summit to dig deeper into the new Snapdragon 888.

During its Day 2 keynote, Qualcomm shared more about the new system-on-a-chip (SoC) and what it brings to the table for 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), photography and more. The Snapdragon 888 will likely power many of 2021’s most significant Android flagships.

To start, Qualcomm dug into the 3rd gen Snapdragon X60 5G Modem-RF System integrated into the Snapdragon 888. The X60 enables 5G, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth experiences. On the 5G end, the X60 supports Sub-6 carrier aggregation and mmWave, sporting up to 7.5Gbps speeds on 5G. Additionally, Qualcomm says the X60 works across virtually all major networks worldwide, as well as U.S. nationwide 5G through the use of Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS).

Snapdragon 888 supports global 5G multi-SIM as well, allowing for international roaming and managing multiple numbers from the same device.

Aside from 5G, the X60 includes the recently announced Qualcomm FastConnect 6900 Mobile Connectivity System. This system enables up to 3.6Gbps Wi-Fi 6 speeds, 6GHz capacity with Wi-Fi 6E. FastConnect 6900 also enables support for Bluetooth 5.2, dual Bluetooth antennas, Qualcomm aptX suite, broadcast audio and advanced modulation and coding optimizations.

Snapdragon’s AI power

As Qualcomm noted on Day 1, the Snapdragon 888 uses the company’s 6th generation Qualcomm AI Engine, which sports the new Qualcomm Hexagon 780 processor. Qualcomm says the Hexagon 780 enables premium experiences that merge AI with professional cameras, personal voice assistants, gaming, connectivity and more.

Qualcomm says the Snapdragon 888 boasts three times more performance per watt over the previous generation, as well as 26 tera operations per second (TOPS). To put that in perspective, last year’s Snapdragon 865 with the 5th gen AI Engine featured 15 TOPS, so this year’s increase is quite impressive.

Alongside the 6th gen AI Engine, the Snapdragon 888 includes the 2nd gen Qualcomm Sensing Hub, which integrates a dedicated low-power AI processor. The Sensing Hub enables features like screen awake, lift and activity detection, and audio event detection.

Powerful camera and gaming capabilities

Qualcomm detailed the improvements to camera capabilities in the Snapdragon 888. Specifically, the company touted its new Spectra 580 ISP, the first in a Snapdragon with a Triple Image Signal Processor (ISP) capable of capturing from three cameras at once.

As the company boasted on Day 1, the Spectra 580 ISP features processing speeds of up to 2.7 gigapixels per second. which translates to roughly 120 photos at 12-megapixel resolution. Qualcomm says the Spectra ISP is capable of capturing 120fps burst snapshots or taking three 4K HDR videos at the same time. Finally, the Spectra 580 ISP includes a new low-light architecture for capturing brighter photos in the dark. There’s support for 10-bit colour depth in the High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF).

Qualcomm continued its gaming push as well, noting that the Snapdragon 888 comes equipped with the full Snapdragon Elite Gaming feature set. That means HDR graphics, Variable Rate Shading (VRS) and more features. VRS helps improve game rendering performance by up to 30 percent for mobile’s most immersive experiences.

Further, the Snapdragon 888 sports Qualcomm’s Game Quick Touch tech, which can lower touch latency by increasing responsiveness by up to 20 percent.

Increased performance and security rounds out the Snapdragon 888

Qualcomm says the Snapdragon 888 features major architectural advances that improve power efficiency and more. That includes using a 5nm process. The new Qualcomm Kryo 680 generates up to 25 percent better CPU performance with top frequencies of up to 2.48GHz. Additionally, the Kryo 680 is the first commercial CPU subsystem based on the Arm Cortex-X1.

Coupled with the Kryo 680 is a more powerful Adreno 660 GPU boasting up to 35 percent faster graphics rendering compared to the previous generation. Qualcomm says both the new CPU and GPU can sustain performance over long periods of time but didn’t elaborate on how long.

On the security side of things, the Snapdragon 888 features several built-in pieces for maintaining the privacy of user data on the device. That includes a Qualcomm Secure Processing Unit, Qualcomm Trusted Execution Environment and support for Qualcomm Wireless Edge Services. Wireless Edge Services is a cloud-based service that allows Snapdragon 888 to measure the security of the device and its wireless connections in real-time.

Qualcomm says it expects Snapdragon 888-powered devices to be commercially available in the first quarter of 2021. Those interested can learn more about the new SoC here.

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