Intel’s next-generation 5G modem chips are coming a bit sooner than expected — which could bode well for Apple testing them in new iPhones.
Apple is largely expected to source 5G modems for its handsets from Intel starting in 2020. But on Monday, the chipmaker announced in a press release that its first 5G modem, the XMM 8160, would be launched about a half year early.
That could allow the new XMM 8160 chips to be tested by Apple and used in an iPhone by the second half of 2020, when the company will likely debut its lineup of devices for that year.
Like most 5G expectations, the XMM 8160 is going to be insanely fast. With support for peak speeds up to 6 gigabits per second, the Intel modem will be about three to six times faster than the fastest LTE chips currently on the market.
It will support both standalone and non-standalone specifications for the 5G New Radio (NR) standard. The chips will be also backward-compatible with older 2G, 3G and 4G LTE networks if 5G connections are unavailable. Intel also says that the modem will also work across the millimeter wave spectrum, as well as lower bands.
As Fortune points out, news of the XMM 8160 comes amid rumored problems with the company’s first 5G modem — the XMM 8060. Reportedly, Apple was unhappy with the amount of heat that the XMM 8060 produced.
Production and Development
Presumably, Intel announced the sped-up development of the new 5G chip to allay concerns that companies dependent on their technology — like Apple — could fall behind when 5G begins to roll out.
Apple is one of the only major OEMs onboard to use Intel’s 5G modems, The Verge reports. Most other large smartphone manufacturers are slated to use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50 5G NR modems — while Samsung and Huawei are also developing their own.
Intel notes that the first “commercially available” devices that will use the chip could debut in early 2020.