Intel's New Modem Could Push iPhone 12 to 1.6Gbps

From PC Mag: Over the past two years, since it started using Intel's modems in the iPhone 7, Apple has locked its modem feature set to what Intel provides. Today, Intel promised a doozy: a 1.6Gbps LTE modem scheduled for mid-2019, just in time for the iPhone 12. That's a faster LTE connection than anyone, including Qualcomm, has promised.

Intel, of course, did not mention Apple in its announcement. But Apple is by far Intel's largest 4G smartphone modem client, so we're going to cut through the nonsense. The iPhone-ready Intel XMM 7660 modem announcement came alongside a key 5G announcement as well: the XMM 8060, a multi-mode 2G-to-5G modem that will be needed for the first round of mobile 5G launches in mid-2019.

"When 5G is initially deployed, we don't expect the coverage to be ubiquitous," said Chenwei Yan, Intel's VP of connnected products and programs. "Consumer devices will have to operate in 5G mode when they can, and fall back to 4G, 3G, or even 2G."

The XMM 7660 is the first Category 19, 1.6Gbps LTE modem we've ever heard of. Qualcomm's current X20 modem is only category 18, or 1.2Gbps, though it has a major launch event coming up in early December, at which point it might catch up.

No current US network can reach anywhere near 1.6Gbps. Yan said that's going to require a combination of licensed spectrum and LAA, a technique of sending LTE over Wi-Fi airwaves that all four US carriers have said they're currently working on.

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