Qualcomm teases new 1.2 Gbps LTE modem chip—will Apple adopt it for future iPhones?

Qualcomm and Apple are currently embroiled in a legal spat involving excessive royalties, casting serious doubt on the possibility of a Qualcomm-made LTE modem in a future iPhone. Today, Qualcomm teased a brand new Snapdragon X20 LTE chip, its second-gen Gigabit LTE modem.

It’s capable of fiber-like LTE Category 18 downloads of up to 1.2 gigabits per second, or one-fifth faster than the previous X16 chip. Upload speeds go up to a theoretical maximum of 150 megabits per second. It’s expected to ship in the first half of 2018.

Only time will tell if Apple plans on dual-sourcing cellular modems from both Qualcomm and Intel, in which case 2018 iPhones could theoretically support faster-than-Gigabit-LTE downlink speeds of up to 150 megabytes per second.

Snapdragon X20 is built in a cutting-edge 10-nanometer FinFET process.

It’s the world’s first-announced modem to support Cat 18 LTE and Qualcomm’s seventh-generation LTE multimode modem. The chip achieves up to 1.2 Gbps downloads by taking advantage of all-new carrier aggregation technology which uses twelve LTE spatial data streams data, each up to 100 megabits per second.

The chip supports up to 5x carrier aggregation across licensed and unlicensed radio frequencies, as well as 4×4 MIMO on up to three aggregated carriers.

Here are a few other perks provided by the X20:

  • All major cellular technologies (LTE FDD, LTE TDD, WCDMA, TD-SCDMA, EV-DO, CDMA 1x and GSM/EDGE)
  • 40+ cellular frequency bands, including US public safety Band 14 and 600 MHz band support
  • More than 1,000 carrier aggregation band combinations
  • LTE Broadcast
  • Voice over LTE with support for Ultra HD Voice quality with the EVS codec
  • Single radio voice call continuity to 3G and 2G

It also delivers crystal clear VoLTE calls on dual-SIM devices (a first for Snapdragon LTE modems) with support for ultra-fast LTE data speeds on either SIM. With current technologies, voice calls on the second SIM are not in Ultra HD audio resolution.

The chip supports the 3.5-gigahertz band used by the Citizens Broadband Radio Service, which can be used to provide new services like private LTE-based networks.

Qualcomm has started sampling the new modem to customers and is expecting first commercial X20 chips to begin shipping in the first half of 2018.

To learn more about Snapdragon X20, visit Qualcomm’s website.

What will Apple do?

Rival Broadcom cannot supply LTE modems—the company exited that market last year as it was losing about $2 million a day in the modem business. Intel’s modem chips in iPhone 7, on the other hand, perform slower than their Qualcomm counterparts.

Will 2018 iPhones support Qualcomm’s new LTE cellular technology, do you think?

Source: Qualcomm