Qualcomm will continue to provide Apple with 5G modems, but the antenna module is Apple’s responsibility. However, Apple also retained a design plan using both Qualcomm modem and Qualcomm antennas as a backup plan, just in case if the final self-designed antenna cannot meet the requirements, and the trade off is that the thickness of the iPhone 12 will increase.
The beam can be electronically steered in different directions without the antenna moving. The modem chip and the antenna module work closely together to make this work properly, our source said. Having the two parts made by different companies may introduce some uncertainty and bump up the difficulty level of the overall design.
Apple’s self-designed antennas had problems before, such as the iPhone 4 antenna gate. The development of a 5G millimeter-wave antenna is more complex because it needs to send and receive higher-frequency signals and has a low fault tolerance. 5G performance also relies heavily on the nature of the antenna.
At the same time, Apple is also designing cellular modems independently, hoping to replace Qualcomm’s one in the future. Apple acquired Intel’s smartphone modem business last year, accelerating independent research and development.
The iPhone 12 is expect to be featured with a Qualcomm X55 5G modem with a maximum download speed of 7Gb/s and a 3Gb/s upload speed.
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