In addition to providing simply faster speeds, 5G networks also will meet new use cases, such as the Internet of Things (internet connected devices), as well as broadcast-like services and lifeline communication in times of natural disaster.
Right now, 5G devices tend to be at least the size of a breadbox. Qualcomm is showing off a single-chip 5G modem, the X50, and a tiny millimeter-wave antenna designed to capture the extremely high frequencies on which some 5G will be transmitted.
As for its 5G reference device, it’s the first proof we’ve seen that the X50 chip can fit inside a smartphone. Don’t judge its looks too harshly, though. Reference designs aren’t usually very pretty — they’re more of a testbed for how other companies can deploy Qualcomm’s technology.