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Apple now tipped to retain Qualcomm as backup modem supplier for dual SIM 2018 iPhones

By Adrian Diaconescu November 20, 2017, 7:53 am

Qualcomm might technically be leading the way to a (still distant) future when commercial mobile devices will support true 5G wireless broadband speeds, but Apple is reportedly intent on (ultimately) ending its “strong” and “broad” relationship with the semiconductor giant.

If that means equipping a large majority of next year’s new iPhones with inferior cellular modems, so be it. Not all of them, mind you, at least not according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s latest research note on the subject of 2018 modem separation and LTE connectivity in general.

Kuo believes Intel will be able to supply Apple with between 70 and 80 percent “or more of required baseband chips” for direct iPhone X and 8 sequels. The rest should still come from long-time ally turned foe Qualcomm, which has historically held a performance advantage over Intel’s cellular chips.

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It’s obviously far too early to predict whether or not the Snapdragon X20 modem will be able to beat the Intel XMM 7560, especially as the two look equally great on paper. What’s guaranteed is the “transmission speed of new 2H18 iPhone models” will be “significantly boosted” thanks to 4×4 MIMO antenna designs.

Currently, the Intel XMM 7480 and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X16 only support 2×2 MIMO technology, so at least in theory, “LTE transmissions speeds will increase significantly” on the 2018 generation of thin-bezel, facial-authenticating iPhones.

In real life, you’ll also need a SIM card… or two from a carrier with LTE Advanced Pro, 4.5G or Pre-5G infrastructure to squeeze the most out of the aforementioned cellular modems.

That’s right, KGI’s top researcher also expects “at least one of the 2H18 new iPhone models” to come with a dual-SIM dual standby feature. And not just any type of dual SIM support, but one attempting to “enhance the user experience” by enabling LTE speeds on both cards.

At the moment, dual SIM phones generally restrict the owner’s backup mobile connection to 3G technology.

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