iPhone 12 Mini

Credit: Apple

  • Documents related to Apple and Qualcomm’s legal settlement have revealed Qualcomm’s 5G modem roadmap.
  • The documents show that Apple expects to use hitherto-unseen X65 and X70 5G modems from Qualcomm.

Apple has just launched its first 5G iPhones in the iPhone 12 series, and it looks like they’re powered by Qualcomm’s X55 modem seen in Android flagships too. This isn’t unexpected, given that Apple signed a settlement to use Qualcomm chips in the first place.

What is unexpected is that year-old documents related to Apple and Qualcomm’s legal settlement may have given us a look at the US chipmaker’s 5G modem roadmap. The old documents — unearthed by Twitter user @dnywlsh and MacRumors — show that Apple intended to use Qualcomm’s 5G modems all the way up to 2024. Check out a screenshot of the relevant excerpt below.

Apple Qualcomm 5G modem settlement

More specifically, Apple stated its intentions to use the X55 modem for devices launched between June 2020 and May 2021, the X60 modem between June 2021 and May 2022, and the X65 and X70 modems between June 2022 and May 2024.

Qualcomm’s X55 has been available in Android phones since 2019. Meanwhile, the X60 was announced earlier this year and is expected to accompany the Snapdragon 875 flagship processor which will power many high-end Android phones in 2021.

This is the first time we’ve heard about the X65 and X70 modems though, although the names are just about all we know at this juncture. In saying so, we’d expect improved power consumption, faster 5G speeds, and more integration with Qualcomm’s RF components.

The disclosed timeline might also give us some insight into Apple’s in-house 5G modem plans, and it looks like it expected to be reliant on Qualcomm for quite some time. Apple acquired Intel’s modem business back in 2019, ostensibly in order to create its own 5G modems in-house and wean itself off the US chipmaker. But this roadmap suggests that Apple expects a long gestation period for its first 5G modems. Of course, it’s possible that Apple has been making rapid progress since these documents were filed last year, but we’ll have to wait and see for now.

Next: The best 5G phones you can buy right now

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