As the smartphone market continues its speedy transition to 5G, it becomes increasingly obvious that the design of Radio Frequency (RF) systems and the choice of appropriate RF Front End (RFFE) components will become key for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to differentiate their products. The goal of this report is to bring further evidence of the growing complexity of smartphone RF design and why system design across multiple air interfaces is key to enhancing the overall performance of smartphones, helping OEMs accelerate time to innovation.
While leading OEMs are embracing a modem-RF system design to enhance their overall 5G implementation, full integration of 5G with 3G/4G is yet to be seen. This report uses Samsung’s flagship 5G smartphones, the Galaxy Note 20 5G and the Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G, to demonstrate how this approach is being executed using Qualcomm’s RFFE system design, covering both sub-6 Gigahertz (GHz) and Millimeter Wave (mmWave) 5G options, as well as Long Term Evolution (LTE) frequency bands. 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.
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