Qualcomm Unveils Ultra-Powerful New 5G Modem Fit for Apple’s iPhone 12

iPhone 12 Concept 2020 Credit: TS Designer / YouTube
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Qualcomm this week announced a new generation of 5G modems with stunningly fast download and upload speeds. And that modem could end up in this year’s iPhone 12.

The chipmaking giant detailed the new modem, the Snapdragon X60, at a “What’s Next in 5G” event in its hometown of San Diego today.

The X60 was originally set to debut at MWC in Spain this year, but that event was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

As far as mobile modems go, the Snapdragon X60 is impressive.

Created using a 5nm chip-making process, the X60 boasts download speeds of more than 7.5 Gbps and upload speeds of 3 Gbps.

It’s also one of the most versatile 5G chips around with support for both mmWave and sub-6GHz spectrum, which includes sub-6GHz 5G as well as 4G bands.

Of course, whether or not consumers will be able to take advantage of those speeds and bands is largely dependent on what carrier they have and where they live. But while the 5G revolution hasn’t happened overnight, the rollout is seemingly picking up pace.

The San Diego chipmaker also announced that it will begin testing the X60 modem with some of its partners this quarter. While the company didn’t mention Apple, and Apple may not be on the list of partners, there’s a good chance that the X60 may be the 5G chip in this year’s iPhones.

Apple vs. Qualcomm?

Last spring, Apple and Qualcomm settled their tortuous legal battle in a surprise move, opening up the opportunity for a multiyear chip supply contract. That’s significant because the legal battle probably would have delayed Apple’s 5G chip plans for the foreseeable future.

And back in October 2019, four insider sources told Nikkei Asian Review that Apple’s upcoming flagships would “carry the most advanced 5G model chip” available at the time. Back then, it was the X55. In the wake of the X60’s release, Apple may opt for the newer modem.

On the other hand, Qualcomm says it expects the first smartphones equipped with X60 chips to arrive in nearly 2021. But given Apple’s size and stature, the two companies may have a special agreement to get X60-equipped iPhones out a bit earlier than that.

In related news, Apple is also paving ahead with its own 5G plans, which includes developing a proprietary cellular antenna because it didn’t like the look of Qualcomm’s.

Along with both mmWave and sub-6Ghz 5G support, this year’s iPhones are also expected to adopt a boxier design, advanced time-of-flight laser cameras, and other new features.

The 2020 iPhones are largely expected to debut at a fall keynote event, likely in September. However, it’s looking increasingly likely that the ongoing coronavirus outbreak may slightly delay their release (though may not their announcement).

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