Qualcomm Confirms 2018 iPhones Will Exclusively Use Intel Gigabit LTE Modems

It appears that the legal brouhaha between Apple and Qualcomm has gone thermonuclear. We knew that Apple was angling to rid itself of Qualcomm chips in its future iPhones, but it appears that the switchover will indeed happen this year.

Qualcomm confirmed the breakup during its fiscal Q3 2018 earnings call. "We believe Apple intends to solely use our competitors’ modems, rather than our modems in its next iPhone release," said Qualcomm CFO George Davis. "We will continue to provide modems for Apple legacy devices."

iPhone X

Intel has provided modems for select versions of Apple smartphones dating back to the iPhone 7 from 2016. AT&T and T-Mobile versions of the iPhone 7 employ Intel's XMM 7360 LTE modem, while the iPhone 8 and iPhone X versions of those carrier smartphones use the Intel XMM 7480.

It is expected that the 2018 family of iPhones will include Intel’s XMM 7560 across the board. The XMM 7560 is a Category 16 LTE modem that was first announced back in late November and includes support for both CDMA and GSM, which is critical for worldwide wireless network support for iPhones. Intel says that the modem is capable of achieving gigabit-class download speeds and 225Mbps upload performance.

Intel XMM 7560

The XMM 7560 supports 5x carrier aggregation for downlink (up to 100 MHz combined bandwidth) and 3x for uplink (up to 60 MHz). Intel also includes 4x4 MIMO, 256QAM, and incorporates a SMARTi 7 transceiver that supports up to 35 LTE bands.

Looking further down the roadmap, Intel has the XMM 7660, which is a Category 19 LTE modem with 1.6Gbps download speeds that continues CDMA/GSM compatibility.

Qualcomm apparently has been preparing for this parting of ways, as witnessed by the company dragging both Apple and Intel over the coals with respect to the superiority of its Snapdragon X20 LTE modems used in Snapdragon 845 Android flagships. Qualcomm cited Ookla Speedtest user-submitted data showing Snapdragon X20 LTE modems mopping the floor with Intel modems used in iPhones on T-Mobile and AT&T networks.