Qualcomm and Intel have just announced their next LTE modems for smartphones, which would “theoretically” have a download speed that would surpass the “Gigabit” barrier, offering little more than 1Gbps. And why is the news relevant? Well, both are suppliers to Apple.
Qualcomm’s new model, the Snapdragon X20, is the first of “Category 18” for downloads, which reaches a speed of up to 1.2Gbps, and “Category 13” for uploads, reaching 150Mbps. In the previous model, the Snapdragon X16, the company had already achieved a download speed of “up to” 1Gbps.
Qualcomm said the X20 will be manufactured using a state-of-the-art 10 nanometer FinFET process, which could suit more LTE operators – so several operators around the world will be able to take advantage of an LTE connection with Gigabit. The company also announced that the first products to have the new modem will be available only from mid-2018.
The new modem from Intel, the XMM 7560 [PDF], is manufactured in a 14nm process and supports the LTE Advanced Pro with download speed “Category 16” (speeds that “exceed” 1Gbps, according to it), and “Category 13” for uploads (up to 225Mbps). The company announced that it will do a sampling in the middle of this year and, soon after, will start to produce it.
Both modems support 5x operator aggregation, 4 × 4 MIMO configurations, up to 256 QAM and other technologies. Both also work with various cellular technologies, covering most of the LTE, CDMA and GSM standards, that is, being able to support most networks worldwide.
Currently, Apple uses on the iPhones 7 and 7 Plus the Qualcomm Snapdragon X12 chip (with maximum download of 600Mbps), or the XMM 7360 (maximum download of 450Mbps), from Intel. The incorporation of the two occurred because the Intel chip used in iPhones does not support CDMA, so Apple ended up choosing to also have some devices with Qualcomm chips.
Since the new Intel modems now support CDMA – and because of Apple’s legal battle against Qualcomm – the chances of Apple choosing to work only with Intel are great, as Sacha Sagan says in a story by PC Mag. It is even possible that the next iPhones can be launched with a single global model.