With 5G gaining momentum in 2020, Apple is expected to introduce its first 5G iPhone models this year. It appears that they will be utilising Qualcomm’s 5G solution which is currently found on the Galaxy S20 series in the US.
According to a joint settlement agreement between Qualcomm and Apple, it looks like Apple will be using Qualcomm chips for four years starting with the Snapdragon X55 5G chipset. Interestingly, the document also mentions the Snapdragon X60, X65 as well as the X70 which aren’t launched yet.
The X55 5G modem is Qualcomm’s 2nd generation 5G modem which supports both SA (standalone) and NSA (non-standalone) networks. The modem supports peak 5G download speeds up to 7.5Gbps and up to 3Gbps for upload. The modem also offers 24 spatial streams with 4×4 MIMO and 1024-QAM, which is rated to provide peak speeds of 2.5Gbps on LTE.
In a separate report by Fast Company, it appears that Apple will also design its own antenna for this year’s 5G iPhone. Apparently Qualcomm’s QTM 525 mmWave antenna module doesn’t fit with Apple’s sleek industrial design. In Qualcomm’s official announcement, it claims that its QTM525 5G mmWave antenna has a reduced height which is designed to support 5G smartphones that are thinner than 8mm.
Apple is said to be working on multiple designs and there’s one that uses both Qualcomm modem and antenna which is slightly thicker and another slimmer option that uses Apple’s antenna. Designing antennas, especially for 5G mmWave, is much more challenging and Apple used to have an antenna problem with its iPhone 4.
Back in 2010, the iPhone 4 is found to suffer poor reception depending on how you hold it. At one point, Apple even introduced a free bumper case program for a limited time which seen is a bandaid solution. The antenna issue was solved on the iPhone 4S as it features a different antenna band layout. However, with its recent acquisition of Intel’s 5G modem business, Apple is probably in a better position than before.
The all-new iPhone models are expected to be launched in September and if it does come with 5G, this is probably the fastest wireless technology generation adoption by Apple. If you look at past releases, Apple usually waits for a generation or two before adding 3G and 4G support for its iPhone.