Pajjuri said that Intel has secured a “significant portion” of the LTE chips, likely in the range of 30 to 40 percent of production. Qualcomm will likely be tasked with the remaining orders.
While Apple is looking to cut some reliance on Qualcomm, the company doesn’t plan to completely turn away from the chipmaker. On the contrary, the analyst believes that the company will “share shift back” to Qualcomm in 2017.
Intel reportedly has 1,000 or more employees working on preparing the Intel 7360 LTE modem for the iPhone 7 lineup. The 7360 LTE modem chip [PDF] from Intel features faster theoretical downlink speeds up to 450 Mbps, uplink speeds up to 100 Mbps, and support for LTE category 10 and 29 LTE bands overall.
In layman’s terms, that means the iPhone 7 could have even faster LTE speeds for browsing the web, downloading apps, streaming video, and other data-related tasks. Apple already improved LTE speeds on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus by adopting LTE-Advanced, which pushed downlink speeds up to a theoretical max of 300 Mbps.
Apple currently sources all of its LTE modems for iPhones from Qualcomm, including the MDM9635 chipset in the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, which offers theoretical downlink speeds up to 300 Mbps and uplink speeds up to 50 Mbps. Qualcomm has been Apple’s exclusive supplier of LTE modems for over three years.
In the future, Apple may create a system-on-a-chip that includes both an A-series processor and an LTE modem chip for improved speed and power management. Apple could license LTE modem intellectual property from Intel to achieve that goal, and the chip maker could also be tasked with fabricating the chipset based on its advanced 14-nanometer process.
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