Apple is apparently going into business with Intel for the upcoming iPhone 7 according to multiple reports which have surfaced over the past few weeks. The move comes as a sort of lifeline for the latter given its weak presence in the mobile chip business.
To be clear, an Intel SoC isn’t actually going to be powering the iPhone 7 since Apple makes its own processors. Instead, the former will be contributing LTE and Wi-Fi modems which connect the phone to a network. Qualcomm has had the honor of being Apple’s sole partner when it comes to wireless chips for quite a while now.
This arrangement has now been blown to smithereens, with Intel now supposedly hogging up to 50% of modem orders for the iPhone 7. What prompted this huge shake-up is unknown as of now, but it’s not unusual for handset makers to opt for multiple suppliers when it comes to processors.
Look no further than Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S7 series as an example of this. With even Apple choosing to seek greener pastures, Qualcomm’s business may get hit in a major way. The chipset producer’s CEO had previously stated that it would be losing orders from one of its major customers, leading further credence to the new report.
According to Bloomberg, the AT&T iPhone 7 will be the first to feature the Intel wireless chip, along with other versions in global markets. Qualcomm will continue to be at the heart of the Verizon variant and all Chinese models. Worryingly, analysts say that Qualcomm’s modem is far ahead of Intel’s product when it comes to performance.
Rumors so far indicate that Apple is looking to utilize Intel’s XMM 7360 and Qualcomm’s X12 modem for the iPhone 7. The first features a download speed of up to 450Mbps and upload speed of up to 100Mbps. The second serves up a download rate of up to 600Mbps and upload rate of up to 150Mbps.
Of course, actual data speeds depend on real-world conditions and network limitations, so it’s possible the differences between the wireless chipsets aren’t that relevant. We’ll have to wait and see what Apple has in store for us come September when the iPhone 7 becomes official.