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It looks like Apple is leaving no stone unturned in its quest to make this year’s ‘iPhone 14’ as power-efficient as possible.
A new report from Taiwan’s Economic Daily News (Google Translate) reveals that Apple has handed all the fabrication business for its 5G RF chips over to TSMC, where the more advanced fabrication process will be able to produce chips that consume less power — resulting in even better battery life for this year’s iPhone.
Previously, these chips were being made by Samsung, however TSMC’s new 6nm RF process will allow Apple to pack the same amount of technology into a smaller chip, which will not only consume less power but also leave more room for the battery.
To be clear, these are the RF, or radio frequency chips used in the iPhone, not to be confused with the 5G modem chips that have been getting a lot more attention lately. This year’s iPhone is still expected to use 5G modem chips from Qualcomm, although this could be the final year that Qualcomm gets invited to the party.
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Apple has been working on its own 5G modem chip for several years now, and the latest reports suggest that it’s still on schedule to debut next year, likely coming first to the “iPhone 15” before it finds its way into Apple’s other 5G-capable devices. For now, however, Apple’s deal with Qualcomm is still in place, and from what we’ve heard the “iPhone 14” will be using the Snapdragon X65, a faster and more efficient improvement over the X60 found in the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups.
These TSMC-fabricated chips, on the other hand, are RF transceivers that work with both the 5G modem and the Wi-Fi chips to take care of delivering the necessary radio frequency signals.
Along the same lines, the new RF chips are also expected to introduce support for Wi-Fi 6E. This was originally rumored to be coming to last year’s iPhone 13, but obviously didn’t make the cut. However, as the next evolution in Wi-Fi technology, it’s fair to say that it’s going to be on the list this time around.
Wi-Fi 6E expands the Wi-Fi 6 first introduced with the iPhone 11 by allowing signals to use the much less congested and faster 6GHz frequency range. Of course, you’ll need a Wi-Fi 6E router to take advantage of it, but since all Wi-Fi standards are backward-compatible, this won’t affect your ability to keep using more common Wi-Fi 6 or even older Wi-Fi 5 networks.
On the 5G side, however, the TSMC-made chips promise to consume significantly less power when using the more common sub-6GHz 5G frequencies, which comprise the vast majority of the 5G networks that iPhone users will find themselves on.
In fact, the power consumption curve for 5G could potentially improve enough to obviate the need for Apple’s Smart Data Mode, at least when operating on most 5G networks. There will still likely be a cost for folks looking for the insanely fast gigabit speeds of Verizon’s Ultra Wideband mmWave network, but studies have shown that most U.S. 5G customers spend 99% of their time away from those networks anyway.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]