While bezel-less displays and dual-camera systems are visual upgrades that are easy to get excited about, an upcoming GPS chip from Broadcom will soon allow future smartphones to provide more accurate mapping features and less battery drain when using services like Google Maps, Waze, etc. Late last week, the IEEE Spectrum announced that this new chip is finally ready for mass-production for consumer-facing products and that we should be able to see this latest advancement in GPS technology make its way to smartphones set to be released in 2018.
More accurate turn-by-turn directions and the ability to have a little extra battery at the end of the day undoubtedly sounds quite nice, but the extent of the upgrades that have been made here is seriously impressive. Current GPS chips in smartphones provide a location accuracy within 5-meters (or 500-centimeters) of your actual location, but with Broadcom's latest and greatest (the BCM47755), that will be dwindled down to just 30-centimeters. Along with the improved accuracy, the new GPS chip should also perform better in cities and other urban locations where there are a lot of tall buildings and other concrete structures.
As for the upgraded power-efficiency, the BCM47755 will use 50% less power than what GPS chips in current smartphones require. This has been achieved thanks to moving the chipset to a 28-nanometer design, using a brand-new radio architecture, and by taking advantage of a dual-core sensor hub that was designed specifically for the BCM47755.
In addition to the advancements made with the chip itself, this will also be the first GPS system in smartphones that can connect to L5 satellites that are capable of kicking out a more accurate signal that's less prone to distortion than the older L1 satellites. The BCM47755 will connect to both L1 and L5 systems to provide the best possible results, and although there have been devices capable of using L5 in the past, this will be the first time that the technology will make its way to consumer products.
Although we don't know exactly which handsets will come outfitted with the BCM47755 GPS chip, it has been confirmed that smartphones slated for release in 2018 will be outfitted with this new technology. A new GPS chipset might not be as exciting as a phone display with hardly any bezels to speak of, but if the BCM47755 works the way it's being advertised, we're going to be in for a real treat once phones actually start shipping with this new silicon.