Originally slated to share the news at MWC which was canceled due to coronavirus, Qualcomm held its “What’s Next in 5G” event today in its hometown of San Diego. At the event, the company highlighted its new 3rd-gen 5G X60 modem with the capacity for super-fast download and upload speeds. Qualcomm announced it is testing the X60 with partners this quarter, could the iPhone 12 lineup that will arrive this fall feature the new chips?
2020 is a notable year for iPhone in a few ways. We’re expecting a new boxier design closer to the iPhone 4, four flagship iPhone models, and it’s also going to be the debut of 5G for Apple’s smartphones which is expected to drive a new wave of demand.
In a surprise move, Apple settled its intense legal battle with Qualcomm last spring and secured a supply of 5G chips for its 2020 iPhones. Today at Qualcomm’s “What’s Next in 5G” CEO Steve Mollenkopf described 5G as “the beginning of a multi-decade opportunity.”
The first major announcement was about Qualcomm’s new X60 5G chip. The company’s president, Cristiano Amon detailed the latest 5G chip that was unveiled last week. It uses the 5nm process and can handle download speeds over 7.5 Gbps and upload speeds at 3 Gbps.
Qualcomm also highlighted that this is the first 5G chip to aggregate mmWave and all sub-6GHz spectrum, including 4G bands.
Last fall, we heard a report that Apple would be using the best 5G chip on the market, Qualcomm’s X55 modem in its iPhone 12 lineup. However, with Qualcomm announcing the X60 chip and that it’s testing it with partners starting this quarter, maybe this year’s iPhones could be prime candidates for the latest 5G chip.
Qualcomm has said that it expects the first smartphones with the X60 chip to arrive in early 2021 but it’s possible that Apple could have a special deal with Qualcomm to get some priority for the latest and greatest 5G tech.
Apple is also rumored to be looking into creating a custom 5G antenna to work with whatever Qualcomm 5G chip it uses in the iPhone 12.
While Qualcomm’s specs for greater than 7 Gbps speeds with the X60 5G modem are exciting, real world use will certainly be at much lower speeds as carriers build out 5G coverage.
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