iPhone X Models With Qualcomm Modem Still Have Faster LTE Speeds Than Those With Intel Modems

iPhone X models equipped with Qualcomm's Snapdragon X16 modem get consistently better LTE speeds than versions with Intel's XMM7480 modem, according to wireless signal testing firm Cellular Insights.


For context, Cellular Insights used professional measurement equipment equipped with four Vivaldi antennas to simulate LTE performance at different distances from a cellular tower with the Qualcomm and Intel models.

Cellular Insights started with a LTE signal from a strong -85dBm, and gradually reduced the power level to simulate moving away from a cellular tower where signal is weaker, until the modems lost their cellular connectivity.

The testing, shared with PC Magazine, was based on performance on LTE Band 4, which is used by every major carrier in the United States except Sprint, as well as in Canada and parts of Latin America.

The results reveal that with only limited attenuation, or signal reduction in simple terms, the iPhone X with an Intel modem started to experience lower LTE download speeds than the iPhone X with a Qualcomm modem.
While both modems started out with 195Mbps of download throughput on a 20MHz carrier, the Qualcomm difference appeared quickly, as the Intel modem dropped to 169Mbps at -87dBm. The Qualcomm modem took an additional -6dBm of attenuation to get to that speed.
Cellular Insights said the difference is most noticeable in very weak signal conditions, in which the iPhone X with a Qualcomm modem experienced 67 percent faster LTE download speeds on average compared to the Intel model.
At very weak signal strength, below -120dBm, the Qualcomm modem got speeds on average 67 percent faster than the Intel modem. The Intel modem finally died at -129dBm and the Qualcomm modem died at -130dBm, so we didn't find a lot of difference in when the modems finally gave out.
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models with Qualcomm modems also had faster LTE download speeds than their Intel counterparts last year, but Cellular Insights said the gap was narrower between iPhone X models.

PC Magazine speculated that Apple could be artificially crippling the Qualcomm modem to have similar performance as the Intel modem, given the controversy that arose with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus last year.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon X16 is a gigabit-class modem that supports 4x4 MIMO, for example, but the functionality is disabled in the iPhone X. The result is that both the Qualcomm and Intel versions of the iPhone X have a peak theoretical download speed of 600 Mbps in most countries.

All in all, what this all means is that customers who want to ensure they receive the absolute highest LTE speeds in areas with weaker signal reception should put some thought into which iPhone model they purchase.


Apple offers the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus in two models everywhere but Japan. The first is the Qualcomm-based model A1865, which works with CDMA networks like Verizon and Sprint in the United States. The second is the Intel-based A1901, which works with GSM networks like AT&T and T-Mobile.

If you want the best possible LTE performance, purchasing the A1865 model is the best option. For now, this requires ordering the Verizon model if you want an unlocked device in the United States. In many other countries, and in the U.S. soon enough, Apple sells an unlocked SIM-free A1865 model.

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Qualcomm Seeks Import Ban on AT&T and T-Mobile iPhone 8 and iPhone X Models

Qualcomm today announced that it has filed three new patent infringement claims against Apple, accusing the Cupertino company of violating a total of 16 Qualcomm patents with its most recent iPhones, including the iPhone X.

Most of the patents in question cover technologies like carrier aggregation, memory designs, and power management features that are designed help to reduce battery usage, but in one claim, Qualcomm says Apple is using a depth-based image enhancement technique for Portrait mode that violates a Qualcomm patent.


Qualcomm is also filing a new complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) concerning five of the patents, and it is asking the ITC to ban imports of iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X models that use chips from Intel, aka AT&T and T-Mobile devices in the United States.

The complaint with the ITC follows a previous filing in July that saw Qualcomm ask for an import ban on iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models equipped with Intel modem chips, along with some iPad models. Qualcomm has not asked for a ban on iPhones that use Qualcomm LTE chips, with the reasoning that a more limited exclusion order is more likely to be granted.

In the lawsuit, Qualcomm once again says its inventions form the "very core" of "modern mobile communication," and that without Qualcomm technology, Apple products "would lose much of their consumer appeal."

Qualcomm is seeking damages in an amount to be proven at trial, a permanent injunction against Apple, and attorneys fees.

Qualcomm's latest filing follows a countersuit from Apple that was filed earlier this week. Apple claims that Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips infringe on "at least" eight battery life patents owned by Apple.

The legal battle between Apple and Qualcomm kicked off in January of this year, and it has escalated rapidly over the course of the last several months. It is not clear if the ITC will agree to investigate the claims Qualcomm has made against Apple, but this will be a legal battle that spans several years, so Apple devices are in no danger of being banned anytime soon.


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Apple Countersues Qualcomm for Patent Infringement Related to Snapdragon Chips

In the ongoing legal feud between Apple and LTE chipmaker Qualcomm, Reuters reports today that Apple has made the latest move by filing a countersuit against Qualcomm and claiming that the supplier's Snapdragon chips -- used in many Android devices -- infringe on the Cupertino company's patents.

The countersuit is Apple's retaliation against Qualcomm after the latter company sought iPhone and iPad import bans in the United States over the summer. At the time, Qualcomm alleged that Apple infringed on six Qualcomm patents related to carrier aggregation and technologies that were designed to allow iPhones to save battery life while communicating. Apple denied any of these claims and said that Qualcomm's patents were "invalid."


Apple's new countersuit further revises its answer to Qualcomm's complaint from July by adding on the accusation of patent infringement surrounding the Snapdragon chips. The filing alleges that Apple owns "at least" eight battery life patents Qualcomm has violated, related to making sure that each part of the phone's processor draws only minimum power needed to function, powering down parts of the processor when not needed, and ensuring that sleep and wake functions work better for the user.

Apple specifically says that Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 and 820 processors -- included in Samsung and Google smartphones -- infringe on these patents, but Apple has only named Qualcomm in its counter lawsuit. The specific monetary damages Apple is looking for were not disclosed.
Apple Inc on Thursday filed a countersuit against Qualcomm Inc, alleging that Qualcomm’s Snapdragon mobile phone chips that power a wide variety of Android-based devices infringe on Apple’s patents, the latest development in a long-running dispute.

“Apple began seeking those patents years before Qualcomm began seeking the patents it asserts against Apple in this case,” the company wrote in its complaint.
2017 has seen rebuttal after rebuttal in the Apple versus Qualcomm legal battle, kicking off in January when the FTC complained that Qualcomm had engaged in anticompetitive patent licensing practices. Soon after, Apple sued Qualcomm for $1 billion, accusing the company of charging unfair royalties for "technologies they have nothing to do with" and refusing to pay quarterly rebates. A Qualcomm countersuit followed in April, and the dispute escalated throughout the year with expanded lawsuits and claims lodged by each side.

Over the summer, Qualcomm began facing an additional lawsuit from the United States Federal Trade Commission, happening separately from the dispute with Apple but covering many of the same anticompetitive tactics that Apple claims in its own lawsuit.


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Apple Working With Intel on 5G Hardware for Future iPhones

Apple is "leaning heavily" towards choosing Intel's 5G modems for its future iPhones, according to Fast Company. Apple engineers are said to be already working with Intel on upcoming 5G technology.

Apple's discussions with Qualcomm about 5G modems, meanwhile, have been described as "limited."


Citing a source with knowledge of Apple's plans, Fast Company says that while Qualcomm 5G modems will offer more specialized carrier features, many of those features will not be adopted by carriers, leading Apple to believe Intel's hardware will be sufficient for future devices.
The end game, multiple sources have said, is to build the Intel modem onto an integrated system-on-a-chip (SoC) that would also contain the CPU, GPU, and other iPhone components. The SoC would be co-designed by Intel and Apple and would be fabricated at an Intel facility.
Intel reportedly has "multiple thousands" of people working on 5G technology in an effort to catch up with Qualcomm and win the contract from Apple.

Intel this morning said that it had made "substantial advances" in its wireless product roadmap to accelerate the adoption of 5G. According to Intel, an end-to-end 5G call based on early 5G silicon has been completed successfully, which Intel says is a "key milestone in its development."

Intel expects its first 5G chips to roll out in 2019, ahead of the wide rollout of 5G networks. T-Mobile just today said that it is planning to roll out its fifth-generation network across the United States by 2020, and most of the carriers in the United States are already experimenting with limited trials.

5G is expected to deliver speeds that are 10 to 100 times faster than the average 4G connection, at a gigabit per second or higher, along with lower latency and other benefits.

Rumors that Apple is considering Intel's 5G technology are in line with previous reports that have suggested Apple is considering eliminating Qualcomm chips from its 2018 iPhones and iPads.

Apple and Qualcomm have been embroiled in a bitter legal battle since the beginning of the year, which has continued to escalate over the months. Apple believes Qualcomm charges unfair royalties for "technologies they have nothing to do with," while Qualcomm claims its technology is "at the heart of every iPhone."

Apple and Apple suppliers have ceased paying royalties to Qualcomm amid the dispute, while Qualcomm has filed several patent infringement lawsuits against Apple and has asked for import/export bans in the United States and China.

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Tags: Intel, Qualcomm, 5G
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Broadcom Offering to Buy Qualcomm in What Would Be the ‘Largest Technology Acquisition Ever’

Following a report last week that stated Broadcom was "exploring" the possibility of buying Qualcomm, which has made LTE chips for Apple's iPhone line for many years, today Bloomberg reports that this offer is moving forward. Broadcom has offered to acquire Qualcomm for $70 per share in cash and stock, in a transaction valued at a total of $130 billion. If completed, it would be marked as "the largest technology acquisition ever."

Through the deal, Broadcom would become the third-largest chipmaker in the world, behind Intel and Samsung Electronics, and the combined Broadcom-Qualcomm business would "instantly become" the default provider of certain components required to build more than one billion smartphones sold every year. The acquisition would eclipse Dell's $67 billion purchase of EMC in 2015, considered at the time the biggest in the technology industry.

“This complementary transaction will position the combined company as a global communications leader with an impressive portfolio of technologies and products," Hock Tan, resident and chief executive officer of Broadcom, said in a statement Monday. “We would not make this offer if we were not confident that our common global customers would embrace the proposed combination.’’
In the midst of the acquisition news, Qualcomm and Apple have been embroiled in a legal battle since January after Apple sued Qualcomm for $1 billion. Apple accused Qualcomm of charging unfair royalties for "technologies they have nothing to do with" and failing to pay for quarterly rebates. As the disagreement escalated throughout 2017, with a new lawsuit emerging just last week, Apple is said to be considering eliminating Qualcomm chips from its devices completely moving forward.

However, through a newly combined Broadcom-Qualcomm company, which could bring about new management, analyst Stacy Rasgon pointed out that the acquisition could finally "smooth things over" between Apple and Qualcomm.
If Broadcom can pull off a deal, it could help smooth things over with Qualcomm’s biggest adversary. A change of management at Qualcomm might help resolve the dispute with Apple more quickly, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Stacy Rasgon.
Broadcom also said that its offer stands whether or not Qualcomm completes its pending acquisition of NXP Semiconductor, which is currently facing regulatory scrutiny in Europe and resistance from NXP shareholders. Following the signing of a definitive agreement, Broadcom said it expects the proposed deal to be completed "within approximately 12 months."


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Qualcomm Accuses Apple of Helping Intel Using Qualcomm Software

Qualcomm on Wednesday filed yet another lawsuit against Apple, this time accusing the company of breaching software licensing terms and using Qualcomm code to help Intel, reports Bloomberg.

According to Qualcomm, Apple breached a contract that dictates the use of software that's designed to make Qualcomm chips work with other iPhone components. Qualcomm also believes Apple may have used its access to that software to help Intel with its own modem chip development.


Since 2016, Apple has been using LTE chips from both Intel and Qualcomm in an effort to diversify its supply chain and move some production away from Qualcomm. The iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8, and 8 Plus all use a mix of Qualcomm and Intel chips.

In light of the ongoing legal battle with Qualcomm, Apple is said to be considering eliminating Qualcomm chips from its devices all together, instead adopting chips from Intel and possibly MediaTek. Rumors suggest Qualcomm has been withholding software from Apple that Apple needs to test prototype devices for next year, forcing Apple's hand.

Qualcomm and Apple have been involved in an escalating legal fight since the beginning of the year after Apple sued Qualcomm for $1 billion. Apple has accused Qualcomm of charging unfair royalties for "technologies they have nothing to do with" and failing to pay for quarterly rebates.

Apple has since stopped paying royalties to Qualcomm until new licensing fees have been worked out, as have Apple suppliers, significantly impacting Qualcomm's profits.

Qualcomm has since levied several lawsuits against Apple, accusing the company of patent infringement and asking both the United States and China to block imports and exports of some iPhone models.


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Apple Considering Eliminating Qualcomm Chips From Next Year’s iPhones and iPads

Amid an escalating legal battle with Qualcomm, Apple is designing its 2018 iPhones and iPads without Qualcomm LTE chips, reports The Wall Street Journal. Apple is instead considering using only modem chips from Intel and perhaps MediaTek in its next-generation devices.

Qualcomm is allegedly withholding software that Apple needs to test LTE chips in its iPhone and iPad prototypes, necessitating the move.


The Wall Street Journal's sources say Qualcomm stopped sharing the software following the January lawsuit Apple filed against the company, hindering Apple's development efforts, but Qualcomm claims Apple has already tested the chip that would be suitable for the next-generation iPhone.
Qualcomm said its "modem that could be used in the next generation iPhone has already been fully tested and released to Apple." The chip company said it is "committed to supporting Apple's new devices" as it does for others in the industry.
Apple has used Qualcomm modem chips in its devices for many years, but began diversifying last year with the addition of Intel modem chips in the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus. The iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus also use both Intel and Qualcomm chips. In the United States, AT&T and T-Mobile models use chips from Intel, while Verizon and Sprint models use chips from Qualcomm.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple's plans to stop using Qualcomm chips in its 2018 devices could still change. Apple could switch suppliers as late as June, three months before the launch of the 2018 iPhone.

Apple and Qualcomm have been embroiled in a legal battle since the beginning of the year after Apple sued Qualcomm for $1 billion, accusing the company of charging unfair royalties for "technologies they have nothing to do with" and failing to pay for quarterly rebates.

Apple stopped paying licensing fees to Qualcomm at that time, as did Apple suppliers. Apple maintains that Qualcomm charges excessive licensing fees by requesting a percentage of an iPhone's entire value, while Qualcomm says its technology is "at the heart of every iPhone."

Qualcomm has since countersued and filed several patent infringement lawsuits against Apple. Qualcomm has also asked the United States International Trade Commission to block imports of some iPhone and iPad models and has requested that China stop manufacturing and selling iPhones.

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Microsoft Claims Upcoming ARM-Powered Laptops Offer Multi-Day Battery Life

Microsoft and Qualcomm have revealed they hope to release ARM-powered laptops by the end of the year, with the two companies promising multi-day battery life from the new machines (via Trusted Reviews).

At its annual 5G summit in Hong Kong, Qualcomm revealed new details about the PCs it is developing in partnership with Microsoft. Known as "Always Connected PCs", the laptops are powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor and rely on an ARM emulation layer to run x86 Windows 10 desktop applications.


ARM processors require fewer transistors, which enables a smaller die size for the integrated circuitry. Their smaller size and lower power consumption are two reasons why they can be found in iPhones and iPads, but the increasing performance and efficiency of the chips is making the step up to laptops a realistic proposition.

Microsoft said it is already testing "hundreds" of the ARM-powered laptops internally on a daily basis, with battery life in particular exceeding expectations.
"To be frank, it's actually beyond our expectations. We set a high bar for [our developers], and we're now beyond that. It's the kind of battery life where I use it on a daily basis. I don't take my charger with me. I may charge it every couple of days or so. It's that kind of battery life."

Bernard added: "I would consider it a game-changer in terms of the way people have experienced PCs in the past."
The first round of Always Connected PCs are said to be coming from the likes of Asus, HP, and Lenovo, but they aren't expected to be cheap. Qualcomm said more affordable Windows 10 Always Connected PCs should become available once the portfolio expands.

Apple is reportedly looking into using ARM-based core processor chips for future MacBooks, which would reduce the company's dependence on Intel. Industry sources claim that Apple would instead build its notebook chips using ARM Holding's technology, a British company that designs ARM architecture and licenses it out to other companies.


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Qualcomm Asks China to Stop Manufacturing and Selling iPhones via New Lawsuits

Qualcomm recently filed lawsuits in China in an attempt to stop Apple from selling and manufacturing iPhones in the country, reports Bloomberg. Much of Apple's iPhone assembly process takes place in China, as does the manufacturing of many iPhone components. China is also an important market for Apple, accounting for 22.5 percent of Apple's sales in 2016.

In a filing with the Beijing intellectual property court on September 29, Qualcomm claimed patent infringement and requested injunctive relief. "Apple employs technologies invented by Qualcomm without paying for them," said a Qualcomm spokesperson about the filing.


According to Qualcomm, the lawsuits are based on three non-standard essential patents covering power management and the Force Touch technology that Apple uses in its touch screens.

Qualcomm and Apple have been embroiled in an escalating legal battle since the beginning of this year after the FTC complained that Qualcomm engaged in anticompetitive licensing practices. Shortly after, Apple sued Qualcomm for $1 billion and accused the company of charging unfair royalties for "technologies they have nothing to do with" and failing to pay for quarterly rebates.

Apple stopped paying licensing fees to Qualcomm at that time, as did Apple suppliers. Apple maintains that Qualcomm charges excessive licensing fees by requesting a percentage of an iPhone's entire value, while Qualcomm says its technology is "at the heart of every iPhone."

Qualcomm has since countersued and filed several patent infringement lawsuits against Apple. Qualcomm has also asked the United States International Trade Commission to block imports of some iPhone and iPad models.

Qualcomm is also facing an FTC lawsuit in the U.S. for using anticompetitive tactics to remain the dominant supplier of baseband processors for smartphones and was recently fined $773 million in Taiwan for violating antitrust rules.


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New Article Delves Into Origins of Ongoing Legal Feud Between Apple and Qualcomm

A new in-depth story about the ongoing legal fight between Apple and Qualcomm has been posted online today by Bloomberg Businessweek, going behind the scenes of the accusations and rebuttals made by the two tech companies. The fight centers upon the "Qualcomm tax," or the amount of money that Qualcomm charges smartphone makers for the internal components of a device that allows it to connect to a cellular signal, also known as the smartphone's modem.

According to court documents seen by Bloomberg Businessweek, the true origin of the feud is described as starting two summers ago at the Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. There, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee are believed to have "shared a quiet word," where Cook told Lee to "pressure" South Korean antitrust regulators into intensifying a Qualcomm investigation that had been open for about a year at the time.


Apple wanted to get itself in front of investigators and spur more questions about the Qualcomm tax, which it could do because it was in an agreement with the modem supplier. That deal had lowered the tax from $30 to about $10 per iPhone, with Apple promising not to challenge any of Qualcomm's patents. However, it meant that Apple could truthfully answer any question in an investigation about the supplier that was already under way -- which Qualcomm claims was exactly Apple's intent at the Idaho conference.
Qualcomm claims that at the event—almost certainly the Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley, which both Cook and Lee attended—the Apple executive urged Samsung to pressure South Korean antitrust regulators to intensify an investigation into Qualcomm that had been open since 2014. “Get aggressive,” the Apple executive said, according to Qualcomm's filing, adding that this would be the “best chance” to get Qualcomm to lower its prices.

Apple says nothing improper happened. “I don’t know what conversation they are talking about,” says Bruce Sewell, the company’s general counsel, in an interview at headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. “For Apple to have said to Samsung, ‘You guys are in Korea and you should be watching this case carefully,’ doesn’t seem to me to be anything beyond simply the kind of conversation two CEOs might have.”
The story then details a few other parts of Qualcomm's history, including its massive "Patent Wall" that greets visitors to its headquarters, displaying patents for Qualcomm's CDMA specification and others that the company claims to be for the first smartphone and app store. "I can't think of a keystroke that you can do on a phone that probably doesn't touch a Qualcomm invention," said CEO Steve Mollenkopf.

Apple was reliant on Qualcomm for this reason for many years, as it produced the highest quality modems in the supply chain and forced the Cupertino company to deal with the Qualcomm tax. That changed in 2015 when Intel began producing modems that would arrive in the iPhone 7. According to Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell, "What prompted us to bring the case now as opposed to five years ago is simple, it's the availability of a second source."

This introduction of a quality second source in the modem supply chain was met with another point by Apple: a smartphone modem is simply one of many components that make up an iPhone — and of "no special significance" as modern consumers rely less on the actual cellular features of the device. These two points encouraged Apple's decision to fight back against Qualcomm, ultimately leading to Apple's lawsuit earlier this year, a Qualcomm countersuit soon after, and more companies joining Apple in its fight.
“Cellular connectivity is important,” he says, “but it’s not as important as it used to be.” On another table behind Sewell, an Apple representative has laid out two versions of the iPhone 7: One model, which has 128 gigabytes of memory was sold by Apple for $750. The other, which has 256 GB, sold for $100 more. How is it fair, Apple asks, for Qualcomm to charge as much as $5 more for the technology in the more expensive phone, given that the two devices are otherwise identical?
In July, Qualcomm claimed that Apple infringed on six of its new patents concerning battery life and graphics processing in smartphones, and in August the U.S. International Trade Commission opened an investigation into Apple's alleged infringement with a decision date aimed around the time of the September 2018 iPhone launch. The patent infringement accusation is said to be designed to disrupt Apple's supply chain and "push the company to negotiate," with Qualcomm CEO Mollenkopf stating that all of the legal back-and-forth won't last forever, expecting Apple to settle soon.

That won't happen according to Sewell: "There's no way that this case settles, absent a complete reinvention of the licensing model that Qualcomm has adapted in the industry."

Check out the fully story by Bloomberg Businessweek right here.


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