Google, HTC, LG, Samsung, Sony hand RFFE design wins to Qualcomm

Qualcomm
RFFE directly impacts a device’s battery life, the look and feel of the display (bezel size), call quality and more.

LAS VEGAS—Qualcomm Technologies announced radio frequency front-end (RFFE) design wins with several original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), including Google, HTC, LG, Samsung and Sony Mobile.

The RFFE affects pretty much every part of the phone, including data rates, voice quality and battery life, and having the RFFE support for various things, like new spectrum bands, affects an OEM’s time to market and ability to introduce new features.

For example, Qualcomm last year announced additions to its RFFE portfolio for devices operating in the 600 MHz spectrum, which T-Mobile picked up in the incentive auction, enabling LG to support 600 MHz in the LG V30, which was followed by the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active.

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Qualcomm said it’s the first technology provider to produce the hardware and software needed to deliver a comprehensive modem-to-antenna system solution to OEMs, which includes new QPM26xx series gallium arsenide (GaAs)-based power amplifier modules, including duplexers (PAMiDs), envelope tracker, antenna tuners, antenna switches and discrete and integrated filter modules.

“Only Qualcomm Technologies is delivering robust end-to-end RFFE and modem solutions tailored for each tier of devices to address the increasingly complex RF demands of current networks in Gigabit LTE and beyond. This is proven out by our extremely strong design pipeline for RF front-end,” said Cristiano Amon, president, Qualcomm, in a press release. “Our advanced RF solutions deliver superior connectivity performance and flexibility in form factor design, and we’re thrilled to work alongside customers like Google, HTC, LG, Samsung and Sony Mobile to help deliver this combination of form and function to consumers around the world.”

Qualcomm RFFE (Qualcomm)
(Qualcomm)

Qualcomm’s RFFE portfolio also supports technologies such as Gigabit LTE, 4x4 MIMO and LTE Advanced, and the company says it’s crucial to the evolution and commercialization of 5G technologies in 2019.

In fact, Qualcomm RF Front-End SVP and General Manager Christian Block noted in a blog post that the RFFE subsystem will be one of the most challenging aspects of building mobile devices for global 5G NR sub-6GHz and millimeter wave deployment. Higher design complexity in 5G will require tighter coupling between the modem, transceiver, RFFE, antennas and the network.

Enabling a lot of Qualcomm’s expertise in RFFE is a joint venture it completed last year with TDK under the name RF360 Holdings Singapore PTE. Within a few months of completing that JV, they secured key design wins in smartphones. In addition to traditionally strong areas such as envelope tracking and antenna tuning, they supplied PAMiD modules (Power Amplifier Modules including Duplexers) in premium smartphones including LG V30, Sony Xperia XZ Premium, LG G6, and flagship Sharp and Fujitsu smartphones, according to Block.

Midtier smartphones such as Samsung Galaxy A5, LG X Calibur and LG K10 featured their FEMiD modules (Front End Module including Duplexers), and their discrete filters and filter extractors are in mainstream devices such as Samsung’s Galaxy S8, Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A3 phones, Huawei’s Honor 9, LG V30, and the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.