iPhone 13 Lineup Expected to Use Qualcomm's Snapdragon X60 Modem With Several 5G Improvements
Built on a 5nm process, the X60 packs higher power efficiency into a smaller footprint compared to the 7nm-based Snapdragon X55 modem used in iPhone 12 models, which could contribute to longer battery life. With the X60 modem, iPhone 13 models would also be able to aggregate 5G data from both mmWave and sub-6GHz bands simultaneously to achieve an optimal combination of high-speed and low-latency network coverage.
mmWave is a set of 5G frequencies that promise ultra-fast speeds at short distances, making it best suited for dense urban areas. By comparison, sub-6GHz 5G is generally slower than mmWave, but the signals travel further, better serving suburban and rural areas. mmWave support on iPhone 12 models is limited to the United States, but rumors suggest that iPhone 13 models may support mmWave in additional countries.
In 2019, Apple and Qualcomm settled a legal battle and reached a multiyear chipset supply agreement, paving the way for Apple to use Qualcomm's 5G modems. A court document from the settlement revealed that Apple would likely use the X60 modem for 2021 iPhones, followed by the recently announced Snapdragon X65 modem in 2022 iPhones.
The X65 is the world's first 10 Gigabit 5G modem and antenna system for smartphones, enabling theoretical data speeds up to 10 gigabits per second. While real-world download speeds will certainly be slower than that, the X65 has many other benefits, including improved power efficiency, enhanced coverage for both mmWave and sub-6 GHz bands, and support for all global commercialized mmWave frequencies.
Starting in 2023, Apple is expected to start using its own in-house 5G modems for iPhones.