The cellular modem is increasingly coming to the forefront of smartphone discussions, especially the newer ones from Intel and Qualcomm expected to come on iconic smartphones such as iPhone 8 (iPhone X) coming out later this year.
While Intel has launched its XMM 7560 cellular modem, its rival Qualcomm has already moved on from the world’s first LTE cellular modem to the new X20, which builds on the X16’s capabilities but brings us a little closer to a true Gigabit experience on mobile devices.
As we reported earlier, Intel’s XMM 7560 is not likely to be ready for mass production this year. The announcement from Intel merely says:
“Today, with the announcement of the Intel® XMM™ 7560 modem, Intel is introducing an LTE modem as global as the population and economy it serves.”
Even the previous model of cellular modems from Intel – the XMM 7480 – is only shipping during the second quarter of 2017. That means the XMM 7560 is still several months away from being shipped. That also means it won’t be making its appearance in iPhone 8.
Meanwhile, Qualcomm has leapt ahead with the Snapdragon X20, the second cellular modem to use many of the features found on the original Snapdragon X16 that was unveiled about a year ago at Mobile World Congress 2016. This year – at MWC 2017 – we expect to see products from Qualcomm that are focused on 5G mobile technology and the Internet of Things connected devices.
The Snapdragon X20 is built on Samsung’s 10nm FinFET manufacturing process. Qualcomm will soon be testing it live with smartphone makers, but the first consumer device sporting the new cellular modem won’t make it into the market until the “first half of 2018,) according to sources.
Though Intel does appear to be behind on cellular modem development, it did bag a contract with Apple for chips on some of the current models of iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
This is an exciting year for smartphones, especially those from Apple, Samsung and some of the bigger Chinese smartphone makers like Huawei, OPPO, vivo and Xiaomi. We might not see 5G come this year – or Bluetooth 5, for that matter – but the stage has been set, and 2017 and 2018 look like they’re shaping up to upend smartphone technology as we know it.
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