iPhone 7 could use an Intel LTE modem chip
Although it won’t be out until this time next year, the iPhone 7 has already become a battleground. According to a report by VentureBeat, Qualcomm and Intel are currently fighting over the contract to provide the forthcoming handset’s LTE chip. If successful, Intel could go on to win the manufacturing rights to the main prize: the processor at the heart of future iPhones.
What is an LTE chip?
LTE chips are responsible for funneling wireless 4G data to the iPhone, and providing them for the iPhone represents a huge coup for any supplier. Qualcomm currently sits pretty, with its 9X45 LTE chip used in all the current iPhones.
However, Intel is working hard to break that monopoly in the iPhone 7, and reports suggest the company has amassed over 1,000 people to develop its 7360 LTE modem chip for the new handset.
It may not become the sole supplier of the chip, but it’s possible Intel could be used as a secondary supplier to help satisfy demand. Apple often uses more than one supplier for the same part, and recently came into question for using both TSMC and Samsung as suppliers of the A9 chip in its iPhone 6s handset.
So why is the LTE chip so important?
As well as being a profitable business venture, the maker of the LTE chip could also become an integral part of Apple’s later upgrade plans. If rumours are correct, Apple will look to implement a SoC design in forthcoming iPhones.
SoC means better efficiency and integration
System on a chip, or SoC, chips usually combine separate elements of circuits on one chip, saving space, while also maximising efficiency. Reports suggest Apple wants to use the technology in later handsets, and will look to bundle LTE technology on the same chip as everything else. That means the company responsible for designing the LTE component in the iPhone 7 would also be involved in making the main processor for future iPhones.
The move could also make sense for Apple. Intel is a world leader in chip design, and already uses a “14-nanometer process from front to back,” according to a VentureBeat source. When compared to the Samsung and TSMC compromised mix of 14 and 20 nanometer processes, the benefits of using Intel, perhaps as a single chip manufacturer is clear. What’s more, Intel is also rumoured to be developing a cutting-edge 10 nanometer process for even faster and more efficient chips – which Apple will want in its next iPhones.
Find a more detailed look at the next iPhone, read: Everything we know about the iPhone 7.