DigiTimes Claims 2020 iPhones Will Use Qualcomm X60 Modem, Despite Previous Rumors Agreeing on X55

Apple is widely expected to release its first 5G iPhones later this year, and multiple sources have indicated that these models will be equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 modem, including analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and the Nikkei Asian Review.


To the contrary, a paywalled snippet from DigiTimes today claims that Apple’s chipmaking partner TSMC will begin manufacturing A14 chips and Snapdragon X60 modems this month for use in upcoming iPhones slated for launch later in 2020. This is the first time that we have seen this possibility mentioned.

TSMC to start chip production for next-gen iPhones in June

TSMC will start manufacturing Apple’s custom-designed A14 SoCs and Qualcomm’s X60 5G modem chips, with both set to power the upcoming iPhones slated for launch later in 2020, using 5nm process technology in June, according to industry sources.

Built on a 5nm process, the X60 packs higher power efficiency into a smaller footprint compared to the X55. Smartphones equipped with the X60 will also be able to aggregate data from both mmWave and sub-6GHz bands simultaneously to achieve an optimal combination of high-speed and low-latency network coverage.

When the X60 was introduced in February, it seemed destined for 2021 iPhones rather than 2020 ones, as Apple needs adequate time for testing and production. Qualcomm itself said that 5G smartphones featuring the X60 are expected to begin launching in early 2021, so this rumor should be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism for now.

DigiTimes is a Taiwanese publication with sources within Apple’s supply chain. The website is often dismissed as being wrong, but it shares correct information from time to time. In January, for example, it claimed that Apple planned to release a backlit keyboard with scissor switch keys for the iPad Pro. Two months later, the Magic Keyboard launched.

Apple typically announces new iPhones in September, but due to the global health crisis, there is a possibility of a slight delay to the launch plans.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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Apple is widely expected to release its first 5G iPhones later this year, and multiple sources have indicated that these models will be equipped with Qualcomm's Snapdragon X55 modem, including analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and the Nikkei Asian Review.


To the contrary, a paywalled snippet from DigiTimes today claims that Apple's chipmaking partner TSMC will begin manufacturing A14 chips and Snapdragon X60 modems this month for use in upcoming iPhones slated for launch later in 2020. This is the first time that we have seen this possibility mentioned.
TSMC to start chip production for next-gen iPhones in June
TSMC will start manufacturing Apple's custom-designed A14 SoCs and Qualcomm's X60 5G modem chips, with both set to power the upcoming iPhones slated for launch later in 2020, using 5nm process technology in June, according to industry sources.
Built on a 5nm process, the X60 packs higher power efficiency into a smaller footprint compared to the X55. Smartphones equipped with the X60 will also be able to aggregate data from both mmWave and sub-6GHz bands simultaneously to achieve an optimal combination of high-speed and low-latency network coverage.

When the X60 was introduced in February, it seemed destined for 2021 iPhones rather than 2020 ones, as Apple needs adequate time for testing and production. Qualcomm itself said that 5G smartphones featuring the X60 are expected to begin launching in early 2021, so this rumor should be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism for now.

DigiTimes is a Taiwanese publication with sources within Apple's supply chain. The website is often dismissed as being wrong, but it shares correct information from time to time. In January, for example, it claimed that Apple planned to release a backlit keyboard with scissor switch keys for the iPad Pro. Two months later, the Magic Keyboard launched.

Apple typically announces new iPhones in September, but due to the global health crisis, there is a possibility of a slight delay to the launch plans.
Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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Qualcomm Introduces Snapdragon X60, Smaller 5G Modem Suitable for 2021 iPhones

Qualcomm this week introduced the Snapdragon X60, its third-generation 5G modem for mobile devices. The company says the first 5G smartphones featuring the X60 are expected to launch early next year.


Built on a 5nm process, the X60 packs higher power efficiency into a smaller footprint compared to its 7nm-based predecessor, the Snapdragon X55. In the context of an iPhone, this could allow for longer battery life and more room inside the device for a larger battery or additional components.

Smartphones with the X60 will also be able to aggregate data from both mmWave and sub-6GHz bands simultaneously to achieve an optimal combination of high-speed and low-latency network coverage.

Multiple reports have indicated that Apple plans to use the Snapdragon X55 in its first 5G iPhone models, widely expected to be released later this year. The new X60 modem would be suitable for 2021 iPhones, but beyond that, it has been reported that Apple is developing its own modem for use in iPhones by 2022 or 2023.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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Qualcomm this week introduced the Snapdragon X60, its third-generation 5G modem for mobile devices. The company says the first 5G smartphones featuring the X60 are expected to launch early next year.


Built on a 5nm process, the X60 packs higher power efficiency into a smaller footprint compared to its 7nm-based predecessor, the Snapdragon X55. In the context of an iPhone, this could allow for longer battery life and more room inside the device for a larger battery or additional components.

Smartphones with the X60 will also be able to aggregate data from both mmWave and sub-6GHz bands simultaneously to achieve an optimal combination of high-speed and low-latency network coverage.


Multiple reports have indicated that Apple plans to use the Snapdragon X55 in its first 5G iPhone models, widely expected to be released later this year. The new X60 modem would be suitable for 2021 iPhones, but beyond that, it has been reported that Apple is developing its own modem for use in iPhones by 2022 or 2023.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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Apple Designing 5G iPhone Antenna Module In-House After Being Dissatisfied With Qualcomm’s Version

Apple is designing the antenna module that will be used in its 5G iPhones in-house because it was unhappy with the version that Qualcomm designed, reports Fast Company, citing a source with knowledge of Apple’s plans.

Apple reportedly “balked” at the design of the QTM 525 5G millimeter-wave antenna module offered by Qualcomm because it “doesn’t fit into the sleek industrial design Apple wants for the new phone.”


Qualcomm will still provide the 5G modem chip used in the new iPhones, but the antenna module will be developed by Apple.

Apple is, however, working on another design that uses both the Qualcomm modem and the Qualcomm antenna as a backup, so Apple does have the option to swap over to a version of the iPhone that uses both Qualcomm components, but if forced to do so, Apple will need to release a slightly thicker ‌iPhone‌.

As Fast Company points out, Apple has run into problems with antennas designed in-house before. The ‌iPhone‌ 4, for example, had an antenna design that resulted in dropped calls and other problems when the ‌iPhone‌ was held in a way that covered the antennas. Fast Company‘s source says that another recent Apple antenna design “required twice as much power as comparable antennas to produce the same amount of radio signal.”

Creating 5G antennas for mmWave networks is harder than creating other kinds of antennas because they send and receive higher frequency signals, leaving less room for error. 5G performance is also reliant on the antenna design.

The 2020 iPhones equipped with 5G will use a “phased array” antenna with two parts that work together to form a beam of radio signal, as described by Fast Company, which could lead to issues if the antenna and modem module are made by different companies.

The beam can be electronically steered in different directions without the antenna moving. The modem chip and the antenna module work closely together to make this work properly, our source said. Having the two parts made by different companies may introduce some uncertainty and bump up the difficulty level of the overall design.

Apple reportedly wants to use its own antennas both because of design reasons and because Apple wants as few Qualcomm parts in the ‌iPhone‌ as possible. Fast Company‘s source suggests that Apple continues to feel it is “getting screwed on royalties” by Qualcomm.

Rumors have suggested that Apple is working on developing its own modem chips for use in future iPhones, but that technology is not ready yet, and until it is, Apple is reliant on Qualcomm’s 5G modem chips. Apple purchased Intel’s modem chip business after Intel exited the mobile modem chip development market, which could speed up Apple’s work on developing its own chip technology.


Apple is expected to release multiple 5G capable iPhones in 2020 that are equipped with Qualcomm’s X55 5G modem chip that offers 7Gb/s peak download speeds and 3Gb/s upload speeds. For more on what to expect in the 2020 iPhones, make sure to check out our roundup.

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Apple is designing the antenna module that will be used in its 5G iPhones in-house because it was unhappy with the version that Qualcomm designed, reports Fast Company, citing a source with knowledge of Apple's plans.

Apple reportedly "balked" at the design of the QTM 525 5G millimeter-wave antenna module offered by Qualcomm because it "doesn't fit into the sleek industrial design Apple wants for the new phone."


Qualcomm will still provide the 5G modem chip used in the new iPhones, but the antenna module will be developed by Apple.

Apple is, however, working on another design that uses both the Qualcomm modem and the Qualcomm antenna as a backup, so Apple does have the option to swap over to a version of the iPhone that uses both Qualcomm components, but if forced to do so, Apple will need to release a slightly thicker ‌iPhone‌.

As Fast Company points out, Apple has run into problems with antennas designed in-house before. The ‌iPhone‌ 4, for example, had an antenna design that resulted in dropped calls and other problems when the ‌iPhone‌ was held in a way that covered the antennas. Fast Company's source says that another recent Apple antenna design "required twice as much power as comparable antennas to produce the same amount of radio signal."

Creating 5G antennas for mmWave networks is harder than creating other kinds of antennas because they send and receive higher frequency signals, leaving less room for error. 5G performance is also reliant on the antenna design.

The 2020 iPhones equipped with 5G will use a "phased array" antenna with two parts that work together to form a beam of radio signal, as described by Fast Company, which could lead to issues if the antenna and modem module are made by different companies.
The beam can be electronically steered in different directions without the antenna moving. The modem chip and the antenna module work closely together to make this work properly, our source said. Having the two parts made by different companies may introduce some uncertainty and bump up the difficulty level of the overall design.
Apple reportedly wants to use its own antennas both because of design reasons and because Apple wants as few Qualcomm parts in the ‌iPhone‌ as possible. Fast Company's source suggests that Apple continues to feel it is "getting screwed on royalties" by Qualcomm.

Rumors have suggested that Apple is working on developing its own modem chips for use in future iPhones, but that technology is not ready yet, and until it is, Apple is reliant on Qualcomm's 5G modem chips. Apple purchased Intel's modem chip business after Intel exited the mobile modem chip development market, which could speed up Apple's work on developing its own chip technology.


Apple is expected to release multiple 5G capable iPhones in 2020 that are equipped with Qualcomm's X55 5G modem chip that offers 7Gb/s peak download speeds and 3Gb/s upload speeds. For more on what to expect in the 2020 iPhones, make sure to check out our roundup.


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Qualcomm President: Priority Number One is Launching Apple’s 5G iPhone as Fast as Possible

Apple and Qualcomm are working to launch a new 5G iPhone as fast as possible, Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon said at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Tech Summit this week, reports PCMag.

The main goal of Qualcomm’s renewed relationship with Apple is to get the iPhone launched on time, with rumors suggesting Apple’s 5G iPhones are going to come in the fall of 2020. “Priority number one of this relationship with Apple is how to launch their phone as fast as we can. That’s the priority,” said Amon.


Given the need to get the phone out at the proper time, Amon said that while the first ‌5G iPhone‌ will use Qualcomm modems, it might not include all of Qualcomm’s RF front end. An RF front-end includes the circuitry between components like the antenna and receiver and it is important for boosting signal from various networks.

As PCMag points out, Qualcomm has called its newest Snapdragon modem chip a “modem-RF system,” suggesting that eking out the best signal requires Qualcomm-created RF front-end components.

Apple instead will likely use its own technology and components alongside Qualcomm’s modems in its 2020 ‌iPhone‌ lineup, which is something that the company has also done in prior years, but Apple will need to use Qualcomm millimeter wave antenna modules as it manufactures the only components that work with Verizon and AT&T’s 5G networks at this time.

Right now, rumors suggest all of Apple’s iPhones coming in 2020 will use 5G, though one rumor yesterday indicated that not all iPhones may support both mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G, the two kinds of 5G technology that are in the works.

Higher-end devices may be able to take advantage of mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G, while there’s a possibility that Apple’s more affordable devices will be limited to the sub-6GHz networks.

mmWave is the fastest 5G technology, but given its limited range, it’s likely to be limited to major cities and urban areas. Sub-6GHz 5G is slower than mmWave 5G, but it will be able to be used in suburban and rural areas, and will still offer speeds faster than 4G LTE.

Apple and Qualcomm settled their long running legal dispute in April and inked a multi-year contract that will see Apple using Qualcomm modems in its devices going forward. Apple was forced to come to an agreement with Qualcomm after Intel was unable to meet Apple’s modem needs.

Intel ultimately sold most of its smartphone modem business in July, and while Apple is working on its own modem chips, it will be reliant on Qualcomm in the near future. Given the late settlement between Apple and Qualcomm, the two have had to rush to get Qualcomm technology ready for 2020 iPhones.

“We re-engaged probably later than both of us would like, and I think we’ve been working together to try to get as much as possible done, and take as much possible advantage of what they’ve done before so that we can actually launch a phone on schedule with 5G,” Amon said.

Amon went on to say that Qualcomm has a “multi-year agreement” with Apple. “We’re setting no expectations on front end, especially because we engaged it very late,” Amon explained. Overall, Amon said that he’s “very happy” with the progress that’s being made. “I expect that they’re going to have a great device.”

Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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Apple and Qualcomm are working to launch a new 5G iPhone as fast as possible, Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon said at Qualcomm's Snapdragon Tech Summit this week, reports PCMag.

The main goal of Qualcomm's renewed relationship with Apple is to get the iPhone launched on time, with rumors suggesting Apple's 5G iPhones are going to come in the fall of 2020. "Priority number one of this relationship with Apple is how to launch their phone as fast as we can. That's the priority," said Amon.


Given the need to get the phone out at the proper time, Amon said that while the first ‌5G iPhone‌ will use Qualcomm modems, it might not include all of Qualcomm's RF front end. An RF front-end includes the circuitry between components like the antenna and receiver and it is important for boosting signal from various networks.

As PCMag points out, Qualcomm has called its newest Snapdragon modem chip a "modem-RF system," suggesting that eking out the best signal requires Qualcomm-created RF front-end components.

Apple instead will likely use its own technology and components alongside Qualcomm's modems in its 2020 ‌iPhone‌ lineup, which is something that the company has also done in prior years, but Apple will need to use Qualcomm millimeter wave antenna modules as it manufactures the only components that work with Verizon and AT&T's 5G networks at this time.

Right now, rumors suggest all of Apple's iPhones coming in 2020 will use 5G, though one rumor yesterday indicated that not all iPhones may support both mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G, the two kinds of 5G technology that are in the works.

Higher-end devices may be able to take advantage of mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G, while there's a possibility that Apple's more affordable devices will be limited to the sub-6GHz networks.

mmWave is the fastest 5G technology, but given its limited range, it's likely to be limited to major cities and urban areas. Sub-6GHz 5G is slower than mmWave 5G, but it will be able to be used in suburban and rural areas, and will still offer speeds faster than 4G LTE.

Apple and Qualcomm settled their long running legal dispute in April and inked a multi-year contract that will see Apple using Qualcomm modems in its devices going forward. Apple was forced to come to an agreement with Qualcomm after Intel was unable to meet Apple's modem needs.

Intel ultimately sold most of its smartphone modem business in July, and while Apple is working on its own modem chips, it will be reliant on Qualcomm in the near future. Given the late settlement between Apple and Qualcomm, the two have had to rush to get Qualcomm technology ready for 2020 iPhones.
"We re-engaged probably later than both of us would like, and I think we've been working together to try to get as much as possible done, and take as much possible advantage of what they've done before so that we can actually launch a phone on schedule with 5G," Amon said.
Amon went on to say that Qualcomm has a "multi-year agreement" with Apple. "We're setting no expectations on front end, especially because we engaged it very late," Amon explained. Overall, Amon said that he's "very happy" with the progress that's being made. "I expect that they're going to have a great device."

Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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2020 iPhone Rumored to Have Under-Display Ultrasonic Fingerprint Scanner Supplied by Qualcomm

Apple has arranged for a representative to meet with Taiwanese touchscreen-related manufacturer GIS next week to discuss development of an iPhone with an under-display fingerprint scanner for release as early as next year, according to a pair of reports from the Economic Daily News.


The reports claim that Apple plans to use Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint sensor technology in at least one iPhone model set to be released in 2020, although the timeframe could be pushed back to 2021. GIS would cooperate with Qualcomm to supply necessary components.

This lines up with recent reports from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Barclays analysts, Bloomberg, and others who expect Apple to release an iPhone with both Face ID and under-display fingerprint authentication in 2020 or 2021.

There are currently two types of under-display fingerprint sensors, including optical and ultrasonic. Optical variants rely on light from a smartphone’s display to create a 2D image of a fingerprint, while ultrasonic variants make use of high-frequency sound to generate a 3D image of a fingerprint.

Qualcomm already supplies ultrasonic fingerprint sensors for Samsung’s Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note10 smartphones, but iPhones could use an even more advanced version of the technology by time 2020 or 2021 rolls around.

In a closed-door briefing on the sidelines of the 2019 Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona, Qualcomm director Gordon Thomas reportedly disclosed that the company plans to create even larger under-display fingerprint sensors than the one used in Samsung’s latest smartphones, with an eventual goal of developing a sensor that works across virtually the entire display.

Coincidentally or not, the rumors about iPhones with under-display fingerprint scanning have suggested it will be a full-screen solution.

All in all, this serves as more evidence that Apple plans to release at least one new iPhone model with both Face ID and a form of full-screen Touch ID within the next year or two. Given the ultrasonic technology only works with OLED displays, the sensor will likely be limited to higher-end iPhones.

Update: As noted by PCMag, Qualcomm today at its Snapdragon Tech Summit in Hawaii unveiled a 30x20mm in-display fingerprint sensor for smartphones, said to be 17x larger than the one in the Galaxy S10. (Thanks, Stefan Constantine!)

Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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Apple has arranged for a representative to meet with Taiwanese touchscreen-related manufacturer GIS next week to discuss development of an iPhone with an under-display fingerprint scanner for release as early as next year, according to a pair of reports from the Economic Daily News.


The reports claim that Apple plans to use Qualcomm's ultrasonic fingerprint sensor technology in at least one iPhone model set to be released in 2020, although the timeframe could be pushed back to 2021. GIS would cooperate with Qualcomm to supply necessary components.

This lines up with recent reports from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Barclays analysts, Bloomberg, and others who expect Apple to release an iPhone with both Face ID and under-display fingerprint authentication in 2020 or 2021.

There are currently two types of under-display fingerprint sensors, including optical and ultrasonic. Optical variants rely on light from a smartphone's display to create a 2D image of a fingerprint, while ultrasonic variants make use of high-frequency sound to generate a 3D image of a fingerprint.

Qualcomm already supplies ultrasonic fingerprint sensors for Samsung's Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note10 smartphones, but iPhones could use an even more advanced version of the technology by time 2020 or 2021 rolls around.


In a closed-door briefing on the sidelines of the 2019 Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona, Qualcomm director Gordon Thomas reportedly disclosed that the company plans to create even larger under-display fingerprint sensors than the one used in Samsung's latest smartphones, with an eventual goal of developing a sensor that works across virtually the entire display.

Coincidentally or not, the rumors about iPhones with under-display fingerprint scanning have suggested it will be a full-screen solution.

All in all, this serves as more evidence that Apple plans to release at least one new iPhone model with both Face ID and a form of full-screen Touch ID within the next year or two. Given the ultrasonic technology only works with OLED displays, the sensor will likely be limited to higher-end iPhones.

Update: As noted by PCMag, Qualcomm today at its Snapdragon Tech Summit in Hawaii unveiled a 30x20mm in-display fingerprint sensor for smartphones, said to be 17x larger than the one in the Galaxy S10. (Thanks, Stefan Constantine!)

Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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Apple’s Acquisition of Intel’s Smartphone Modem Business Completed, Intel Admits ‘Multi-Billion Dollar Loss’

Intel today announced it has completed the sale of the majority of its smartphone modem business to Apple for $1 billion following regulatory approval. The transaction was first announced in July and includes intellectual property, equipment, and approximately 2,200 Intel employees joining Apple.

Intel 5G Modem
The deal sees Apple acquire a large portfolio of wireless patents from Intel. Apple now holds over 17,000 wireless technology patents, ranging from protocols for cellular standards to modem architecture and modem operation.

Intel will retain the ability to develop modems for non-smartphone applications, such as PCs, internet-of-things devices, and autonomous vehicles.

Last week, Intel admitted that it sold its smartphone modem business to Apple at “a multi-billion dollar loss,” according to court documents unearthed by Reuters. Intel added that rival chipmaker Qualcomm’s patent licensing practices “strangled competition” and effectively forced it to exit the market.

Apple is expected to use Qualcomm modems for its first 5G-enabled iPhones next year, as part of a six-year licensing agreement between the companies. Farther down the road, multiple reports have claimed that Apple plans to develop its own modems for iPhones by 2022-23, and this Intel deal would certainly help those efforts.

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Intel today announced it has completed the sale of the majority of its smartphone modem business to Apple for $1 billion following regulatory approval. The transaction was first announced in July and includes intellectual property, equipment, and approximately 2,200 Intel employees joining Apple.

Intel 5G Modem
The deal sees Apple acquire a large portfolio of wireless patents from Intel. Apple now holds over 17,000 wireless technology patents, ranging from protocols for cellular standards to modem architecture and modem operation.

Intel will retain the ability to develop modems for non-smartphone applications, such as PCs, internet-of-things devices, and autonomous vehicles.

Last week, Intel admitted that it sold its smartphone modem business to Apple at "a multi-billion dollar loss," according to court documents unearthed by Reuters. Intel added that rival chipmaker Qualcomm's patent licensing practices "strangled competition" and effectively forced it to exit the market.

Apple is expected to use Qualcomm modems for its first 5G-enabled iPhones next year, as part of a six-year licensing agreement between the companies. Farther down the road, multiple reports have claimed that Apple plans to develop its own modems for iPhones by 2022-23, and this Intel deal would certainly help those efforts.


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Apple Reportedly Wants to Have a Custom 5G Modem Ready for Use in Some Products by 2021

Apple yesterday announced that it has agreed to acquire the majority of Intel’s smartphone modem business. The $1 billion transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019, subject to regulatory approvals.


Understandably, the acquisition may enable Apple to accelerate development of its own 5G modem, with Reuters citing a source who claims the iPhone maker wants to have an in-house chip ready for use in some of its products by 2021, compared to previously reported timeframes of between 2022 and 2025.

New details lower down: Apple has partnered with Global Unichip, a design house connected to TSMC, on a modem design effort, and has an aggressive goal of 2021 for a working chip (vs the 2025 estimate previously reported by @aatilley ) https://t.co/h7106MAPgy

— Stephen Nellis (@StephenNellis) July 25, 2019

Apple’s transition to custom 5G modems will likely happen in phases, starting with lower-end and older models of devices, according to the report. Apple has a multiyear chipset supply agreement with Qualcomm, and a six-year patent license agreement, so it certainly does not have to rush the process.

The report does not explicitly mention the iPhone, so the first product with an Apple-designed modem could very well end up being an iPad. In any case, the transition away from Qualcomm will likely take years, as its modems lead the industry in performance and worldwide compatibility.

In the interim, Intel is expected to supply LTE modems for 2019 iPhones, with Apple returning to Qualcomm for the first 5G-enabled iPhones in 2020.

Tags: Qualcomm, 5G

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Apple yesterday announced that it has agreed to acquire the majority of Intel's smartphone modem business. The $1 billion transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019, subject to regulatory approvals.


Understandably, the acquisition may enable Apple to accelerate development of its own 5G modem, with Reuters citing a source who claims the iPhone maker wants to have an in-house chip ready for use in some of its products by 2021, compared to previously reported timeframes of between 2022 and 2025.


Apple's transition to custom 5G modems will likely happen in phases, starting with lower-end and older models of devices, according to the report. Apple has a multiyear chipset supply agreement with Qualcomm, and a six-year patent license agreement, so it certainly does not have to rush the process.

The report does not explicitly mention the iPhone, so the first product with an Apple-designed modem could very well end up being an iPad. In any case, the transition away from Qualcomm will likely take years, as its modems lead the industry in performance and worldwide compatibility.

In the interim, Intel is expected to supply LTE modems for 2019 iPhones, with Apple returning to Qualcomm for the first 5G-enabled iPhones in 2020.

Tags: Qualcomm, 5G

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FTC Wins Antitrust Lawsuit Against Qualcomm, Appeal to Follow

The FTC today won its antitrust lawsuit against Qualcomm over the chipmaker’s anticompetitive business practices.


As first reported by legal expert Florian Mueller on his blog FOSS Patents, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh has ruled that Qualcomm’s so-called “no license, no chips” model, under which the chipmaker has refused to provide chips to companies without a patent license, violates federal antitrust laws.

The ruling has significant implications for Apple, as Koh ordered that Qualcomm must negotiate or renegotiate license terms with its customers in good faith without threatening to cut off access to its cellular modem chips or related software and technical support, according to Mueller.

Qualcomm also must make patent licenses available to rival cellular modem suppliers on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory or “FRAND” terms, and may not enter exclusive agreements for the supply of modem chips.

Apple sued Qualcomm in early 2017 over these anticompetitive business practices, and unpaid royalty rebates, but the two companies announced an agreement to end all ongoing litigation worldwide last month. The settlement includes a six-year licensing agreement and a multiyear chipset supply agreement.

It’s unclear if Apple had any hint that the FTC was likely to win its antitrust case and if that had any implications on its settlement with Qualcomm.

While it appears that Intel will remain the sole supplier of LTE modems in 2019 iPhones, Qualcomm is expected to supply Apple with its industry-leading 5G modems for 2020 iPhones now that the companies have settled, so Koh’s ruling could lead to a fairer agreement between Apple and Qualcomm moving forward.

Farther down the road, multiple reports have indicated that Apple is designing its own cellular modems that would allow it to drop Qualcomm for good, although they might not appear in iPhones until as late as 2025.

Qualcomm will likely appeal the ruling, but Mueller believes the chipmaker faces an uphill battle given “such a rich and powerful body of evidence” regarding its anticompetitive business practices. Mueller has excellent, in-depth coverage of Koh’s ruling on his blog FOSS Patents that is well worth a read.

BREAKING NEWS: Federal Trade Commission wins #antitrust case against #Qualcomm in Northern District of California https://t.co/bI5v7TpTpo Among other things, standard-essential #patents MUST be licensed at the component level. $QCOM @FTC #ftc #ftcqcom

— Florian Mueller (@FOSSpatents) May 22, 2019

Update: Qualcomm has announced that it will immediately seek a stay of the ruling and an expedited appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

“We strongly disagree with the judge’s conclusions, her interpretation of the facts and her application of the law,” said Don Rosenberg, general counsel of Qualcomm, in a statement shared by the Washington Post‘s Hamza Shaban.

Koh’s complete ruling is embedded ahead.

19-05-21 FTC v. Qualcomm Ju… by on Scribd

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The FTC today won its antitrust lawsuit against Qualcomm over the chipmaker's anticompetitive business practices.


As first reported by legal expert Florian Mueller on his blog FOSS Patents, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh has ruled that Qualcomm's so-called "no license, no chips" model, under which the chipmaker has refused to provide chips to companies without a patent license, violates federal antitrust laws.

The ruling has significant implications for Apple, as Koh ordered that Qualcomm must negotiate or renegotiate license terms with its customers in good faith without threatening to cut off access to its cellular modem chips or related software and technical support, according to Mueller.

Qualcomm also must make patent licenses available to rival cellular modem suppliers on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory or "FRAND" terms, and may not enter exclusive agreements for the supply of modem chips.

Apple sued Qualcomm in early 2017 over these anticompetitive business practices, and unpaid royalty rebates, but the two companies announced an agreement to end all ongoing litigation worldwide last month. The settlement includes a six-year licensing agreement and a multiyear chipset supply agreement.

It's unclear if Apple had any hint that the FTC was likely to win its antitrust case and if that had any implications on its settlement with Qualcomm.

While it appears that Intel will remain the sole supplier of LTE modems in 2019 iPhones, Qualcomm is expected to supply Apple with its industry-leading 5G modems for 2020 iPhones now that the companies have settled, so Koh's ruling could lead to a fairer agreement between Apple and Qualcomm moving forward.

Farther down the road, multiple reports have indicated that Apple is designing its own cellular modems that would allow it to drop Qualcomm for good, although they might not appear in iPhones until as late as 2025.

Qualcomm will likely appeal the ruling, but Mueller believes the chipmaker faces an uphill battle given "such a rich and powerful body of evidence" regarding its anticompetitive business practices. Mueller has excellent, in-depth coverage of Koh's ruling on his blog FOSS Patents that is well worth a read.


Update: Qualcomm has announced that it will immediately seek a stay of the ruling and an expedited appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

"We strongly disagree with the judge's conclusions, her interpretation of the facts and her application of the law," said Don Rosenberg, general counsel of Qualcomm, in a statement shared by the Washington Post's Hamza Shaban.

Koh's complete ruling is embedded ahead. Continue reading "FTC Wins Antitrust Lawsuit Against Qualcomm, Appeal to Follow"

Apple-Designed iPhone Modems Could Take Until 2025, Intel Confirms Interest in Its Modem Business

The Information has published a lengthy look into Apple’s seemingly deteriorating relationship with Intel in terms of iPhone modems, leading to Apple’s rekindled relationship with rival chipmaker Qualcomm last month.

Intel 5G Modem
The report claims that Apple’s frustrations with Intel’s modem efforts began much earlier than some previous reports had indicated, and involved struggles with modems for the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR, not just 5G smartphone modem development that Intel abandoned last month.

It was early 2017 and Apple was preparing a new line of iPhones to be released the next year, but the Intel modem for the devices, known as the 7560, wasn’t working properly, according to two people with knowledge of the relationship. […] Intel had already overhauled the modem four times to bring it up to par with the latest Qualcomm modem. But missed deadlines and continuing technical issues with the chip were making Apple executives anxious, said one of the people.

“This would have never happened at Apple under my watch,” Mr. Srouji barked at his Intel counterpart, Venkata “Murthy” Renduchintala, during a meeting on Apple’s campus, according to the person, who was present at the meeting.

The size and structure of Intel’s mobile division made it difficult to efficiently engineer modems, with teams struggling to work together, according to multiple current and former Intel employees and industry partners cited in the report.

In a statement provided to The Information, Intel also confirmed interest in its modem business from many companies, reportedly including Apple:

We have world-class 5G modem technology that very few companies have the IP and expertise to deliver. That’s why many companies have expressed interest in acquiring our cellular modem assets since our recent announcement that we are assessing our options to realize the value we have created.

While it appears that Apple and Qualcomm’s multi-year licensing and chipset supply agreement will result in Qualcomm supplying modems for the first 5G-enabled iPhones, expected to launch in 2020, multiple reports have indicated that Apple is on the path to developing its own cellular modems.

According to The Information, however, those in-house efforts appear to be farther away than initially thought. During interviews, the report claims Apple told prospective engineers that it expects to have its own modem ready by 2025, far later than the earliest considered possibility of 2021.

All in all, the report reaffirms the belief that Apple was so fed up with Intel’s modem struggles that it had little to no choice but to settle its bitter legal battle with Qualcomm. That should result in Qualcomm modems in iPhones for at least a few years, at least until Apple finalizes its own chip.

This article, “Apple-Designed iPhone Modems Could Take Until 2025, Intel Confirms Interest in Its Modem Business” first appeared on MacRumors.com

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The Information has published a lengthy look into Apple's seemingly deteriorating relationship with Intel in terms of iPhone modems, leading to Apple's rekindled relationship with rival chipmaker Qualcomm last month.

Intel 5G Modem
The report claims that Apple's frustrations with Intel's modem efforts began much earlier than some previous reports had indicated, and involved struggles with modems for the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR, not just 5G smartphone modem development that Intel abandoned last month.
It was early 2017 and Apple was preparing a new line of iPhones to be released the next year, but the Intel modem for the devices, known as the 7560, wasn't working properly, according to two people with knowledge of the relationship. […] Intel had already overhauled the modem four times to bring it up to par with the latest Qualcomm modem. But missed deadlines and continuing technical issues with the chip were making Apple executives anxious, said one of the people.

"This would have never happened at Apple under my watch," Mr. Srouji barked at his Intel counterpart, Venkata "Murthy" Renduchintala, during a meeting on Apple's campus, according to the person, who was present at the meeting.
The size and structure of Intel's mobile division made it difficult to efficiently engineer modems, with teams struggling to work together, according to multiple current and former Intel employees and industry partners cited in the report.

In a statement provided to The Information, Intel also confirmed interest in its modem business from many companies, reportedly including Apple:
We have world-class 5G modem technology that very few companies have the IP and expertise to deliver. That's why many companies have expressed interest in acquiring our cellular modem assets since our recent announcement that we are assessing our options to realize the value we have created.
While it appears that Apple and Qualcomm's multi-year licensing and chipset supply agreement will result in Qualcomm supplying modems for the first 5G-enabled iPhones, expected to launch in 2020, multiple reports have indicated that Apple is on the path to developing its own cellular modems.

According to The Information, however, those in-house efforts appear to be farther away than initially thought. During interviews, the report claims Apple told prospective engineers that it expects to have its own modem ready by 2025, far later than the earliest considered possibility of 2021.

All in all, the report reaffirms the belief that Apple was so fed up with Intel's modem struggles that it had little to no choice but to settle its bitter legal battle with Qualcomm. That should result in Qualcomm modems in iPhones for at least a few years, at least until Apple finalizes its own chip.


This article, "Apple-Designed iPhone Modems Could Take Until 2025, Intel Confirms Interest in Its Modem Business" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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iPhone XS Max Signal Strength Compared to OnePlus 7 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S10

The Samsung Galaxy S10 and the new OnePlus 7 Pro are both flagship smartphones that are designed to compete with the iPhone XS Max, and to see how their LTE chips compare, PCMag teamed up with Cellular Insights to test the signal strength of the new devices.

Apple’s iPhone XS Max is equipped with an XMM7560 modem chip from Intel, while the Galaxy S10 and the OnePlus 7 Pro are using Qualcomm’s X24 modem, which theoretically offers better performance.

iPhone XS Max in blue, OnePlus 7 Pro in orange, Samsung Galaxy S10 in gray, and LG V40 in yellow

The Intel XMM7560 modem in the iPhone XS Max supports supports 5-carrier aggregation but offers 1Gb/s maximum theoretical data transfer speeds, while the Qualcomm X24 in the Galaxy S10 has max theoretical speeds of 2Gb/s (it uses 7-carrier aggregation) and the OnePlus 7 Pro has max theoretical speeds of 1.2Gb/s (lower because it uses 5-carrier aggregation like the iPhone).

In testing on LTE band 4 with good signal, there wasn’t a lot of difference in performance between the iPhone XS Max, the newer smartphones from Samsung and OnePlus, and the LG V40, which PCMag added in because it was 2018’s best performing phone in terms of cellular speed.

All of the smartphones performed similarly, but the Samsung Galaxy S10 did see some of the slowest speeds, and at peak signal, the iPhone XS came in behind the OnePlus 7 Pro and the LG V40.

In a test with poorer LTE signal, the iPhone XS Max saw the slowest speeds and was outperformed by all of the Qualcomm chips. The iPhone XS Max was quite a bit slower than the Galaxy S10 and the OnePlus 7 Pro specifically.


Starting in 2020, Apple is no longer going to use Intel chips and is instead going to transition to Qualcomm’s 5G chips. Intel has decided that it’s exiting the 5G smartphone modem chip business leaving Apple no choice but to rely on Qualcomm technology and perhaps some chips from Samsung.

Apple and Qualcomm recently settled a vicious legal battle which had seen Apple refusing to use Qualcomm chips. Because of the dispute, Apple used Intel chips in the 2018 iPhones, and is expected to continue to use Intel chips for the 2019 iPhones.

Though the legal battle is over, Apple isn’t likely to have time to swap over to Qualcomm modem chips for the 2019 iPhones, and Intel has confirmed that it’s going to continue to supply 4G chips to meet its current obligations.

This article, “iPhone XS Max Signal Strength Compared to OnePlus 7 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S10” first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

The Samsung Galaxy S10 and the new OnePlus 7 Pro are both flagship smartphones that are designed to compete with the iPhone XS Max, and to see how their LTE chips compare, PCMag teamed up with Cellular Insights to test the signal strength of the new devices.

Apple's iPhone XS Max is equipped with an XMM7560 modem chip from Intel, while the Galaxy S10 and the OnePlus 7 Pro are using Qualcomm's X24 modem, which theoretically offers better performance.

iPhone XS Max in blue, OnePlus 7 Pro in orange, Samsung Galaxy S10 in gray, and LG V40 in yellow

The Intel XMM7560 modem in the iPhone XS Max supports supports 5-carrier aggregation but offers 1Gb/s maximum theoretical data transfer speeds, while the Qualcomm X24 in the Galaxy S10 has max theoretical speeds of 2Gb/s (it uses 7-carrier aggregation) and the OnePlus 7 Pro has max theoretical speeds of 1.2Gb/s (lower because it uses 5-carrier aggregation like the iPhone).

In testing on LTE band 4 with good signal, there wasn't a lot of difference in performance between the iPhone XS Max, the newer smartphones from Samsung and OnePlus, and the LG V40, which PCMag added in because it was 2018's best performing phone in terms of cellular speed.

All of the smartphones performed similarly, but the Samsung Galaxy S10 did see some of the slowest speeds, and at peak signal, the iPhone XS came in behind the OnePlus 7 Pro and the LG V40.

In a test with poorer LTE signal, the iPhone XS Max saw the slowest speeds and was outperformed by all of the Qualcomm chips. The iPhone XS Max was quite a bit slower than the Galaxy S10 and the OnePlus 7 Pro specifically.


Starting in 2020, Apple is no longer going to use Intel chips and is instead going to transition to Qualcomm's 5G chips. Intel has decided that it's exiting the 5G smartphone modem chip business leaving Apple no choice but to rely on Qualcomm technology and perhaps some chips from Samsung.

Apple and Qualcomm recently settled a vicious legal battle which had seen Apple refusing to use Qualcomm chips. Because of the dispute, Apple used Intel chips in the 2018 iPhones, and is expected to continue to use Intel chips for the 2019 iPhones.

Though the legal battle is over, Apple isn't likely to have time to swap over to Qualcomm modem chips for the 2019 iPhones, and Intel has confirmed that it's going to continue to supply 4G chips to meet its current obligations.


This article, "iPhone XS Max Signal Strength Compared to OnePlus 7 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S10" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums