Today, Samsung announced its next LTE modem, which will be capable of downlink speeds of 1.2Gbps. The modem will be included in the company's next generation of flagship chipsets, which will likely be included in regional variants of next year's Galaxy S9.
Of course, if you're in the US, you'll still most likely be getting the Qualcomm versions of Samsung's handsets, but that's OK. Announced in February, Qualcomm's Snapdragon X20 modem also supports up to 1.2Gbps, so we'll probably see that in the company's next SoC.
Samsung's new modem achieves this speed through a combination of 6CA (carrier aggregation), 4x4 MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output), and "higher-order 256 QAM (Quadrature amplitude modulation) scheme to maximize the data transfer rate." The company said the following:
“With the increase of high-quality online content services, the demand for high-performance LTE modems continue to rise as well,” said Woonhaing Hur, Vice President of System LSI Protocol Development at Samsung Electronics. “The 1.2Gbps maximum downlink speed with 6CA support highlights Samsung’s leading design capabilities and well-positions Samsung for the upcoming 5G era.”
The current generation of flagship mobile chipsets - including both the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 and Samsung Exynos 8895 - supports 1Gbps downlink, so the new Category 18 speeds will be a marked improvement on an already fast technology.
Unfortunately, this leaves Intel as falling further behind in the cellular market, as it only announced its first gigabit (1Gbps) LTE modem in February, and it's not even slated for launch until later on this year. It also affects the company's hold on the PC market, as Microsoft will be introducing cellular PCs that include Qualcomm chipsets.
If Samsung sticks to its normal release schedule, we'll see the new modems launch in the Galaxy S9, which should show up around the time of Mobile World Congress next year.