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DigiTimes Claims 2020 iPhones Will Use Qualcomm X60 Modem, Despite Previous Rumors Agreeing on X55

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Apple is widely expected to release its first 5G iPhones later this year, and multiple sources have indicated that these models will be equipped with Qualcomm's Snapdragon X55 modem, including analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and the Nikkei Asian Review.


To the contrary, a paywalled snippet from DigiTimes today claims that Apple's chipmaking partner TSMC will begin manufacturing A14 chips and Snapdragon X60 modems this month for use in upcoming iPhones slated for launch later in 2020. This is the first time that we have seen this possibility mentioned.
TSMC to start chip production for next-gen iPhones in June
TSMC will start manufacturing Apple's custom-designed A14 SoCs and Qualcomm's X60 5G modem chips, with both set to power the upcoming iPhones slated for launch later in 2020, using 5nm process technology in June, according to industry sources.
Built on a 5nm process, the X60 packs higher power efficiency into a smaller footprint compared to the X55. Smartphones equipped with the X60 will also be able to aggregate data from both mmWave and sub-6GHz bands simultaneously to achieve an optimal combination of high-speed and low-latency network coverage.

When the X60 was introduced in February, it seemed destined for 2021 iPhones rather than 2020 ones, as Apple needs adequate time for testing and production. Qualcomm itself said that 5G smartphones featuring the X60 are expected to begin launching in early 2021, so this rumor should be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism for now.

DigiTimes is a Taiwanese publication with sources within Apple's supply chain. The website is often dismissed as being wrong, but it shares correct information from time to time. In January, for example, it claimed that Apple planned to release a backlit keyboard with scissor switch keys for the iPad Pro. Two months later, the Magic Keyboard launched.

Apple typically announces new iPhones in September, but due to the global health crisis, there is a possibility of a slight delay to the launch plans.

Article Link: DigiTimes Claims 2020 iPhones Will Use Qualcomm X60 Modem, Despite Previous Rumors Agreeing on X55
 

CWallace

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Sounds reasonable that Apple would use the X60 is it is a superior platform available to them. They don't jump on the latest tech for the sake of meeting a spec sheet, but prefer to wait a bit to adopt and make it useful.
 
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xpxp2002

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This would be a relief, if so. I was thinking that if the iPhone 12 had the X55 inside, I may finance it to trade it in next year for a device with the chipset capable of CA across sub-6 and mmWave. Having both this year would make it easier to justify not upgrading in 2021.
 
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NickName99

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Sounds like going with the X60 would at least delay release of the iPhone 12, assuming no serious issues came up. Seems like a lot of risk for a small amount of benefit.
 
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JPack

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That's completely unrealistic.

First, 5nm capacity doesn't come from thin air. And if Qualcomm were shipping X60 today, they wouldn't tell everyone they expect the first smartphones to arrive in 2021.
 
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thadoggfather

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If only the notch got replaced with a centered hole punch crammed with FaceID stuffs.

That would be fresh
 
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mnsportsgeek

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I'd guess that if this is true then 120hz is also in the cards because of the increased power efficiency in the X60.

I'm skeptical of this rumor though. If Qualcomm was shipping them for a phone this fall, they wouldn't tell people that they are arriving in 2021 as a previous poster said.
 
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ksec

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When has Digitimes got anything right. All the rumours they reported are literally made up by them.

And it seems no one has learned anything from the Intel / Qualcomm / Apple Modem case.
 
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Sasparilla

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Digitimes has definitely not fallen in the reliable category for rumors unlike Kuo etc. who are reliable. I'd take this with a big grain of salt - would love it if it was true, but seems unlikely.
 
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ccraig13

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Oh when I saw the image I thought they were gonna say Apple is coming out with a phone that's 5nm thick and was like ok this time you've gone too far!
 
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WiseAJ

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I'd guess that if this is true then 120hz is also in the cards because of the increased power efficiency in the X60.

I'm skeptical of this rumor though. If Qualcomm was shipping them for a phone this fall, they wouldn't tell people that they are arriving in 2021 as a previous poster said.

Apple's not just a regular company though. I can see Qualcomm having a special secret arrangement with Apple for exclusive access to the first initial batches in the fall making them unavailable for anyone else until early 2021.
 
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justperry

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I'm a rolling stone.
4G is already plenty fast enough, it's a (new) feature I would not upgrade a phone for.
Who needs 5G on a phone, who needs Gigs of data instantly, for instance, a video would
not need to be downloaded instantly, streaming with a buffer will do.
I can see the need for fast network acces for professional use on Laptops/Desktops and/or Tablets, not
for the tiny screen on an iPhone.
 
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CWallace

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That's completely unrealistic. First, 5nm capacity doesn't come from thin air. And if Qualcomm were shipping X60 today, they wouldn't tell everyone they expect the first smartphones to arrive in 2021.

It could be that Apple has first-dibs on the X60 and locked up supply for 2020, forcing everyone else to use X55 for their 2020 models.
 
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Analog Kid

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Smartphones equipped with the X60 will also be able to aggregate data from both mmWave and sub-6GHz bands simultaneously to achieve an optimal combination of high-speed and low-latency network coverage.
Not sure I understand this sentence. Is mmWave higher latency for some reason?
 
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xpxp2002

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Not sure I understand this sentence. Is mmWave higher latency for some reason?
It's not. 5G NR is lower latency than LTE. The band doesn't really make a difference.

The benefit of sub-6 + mmWave is that you'll get seamless coverage from the lower band while seeing improved speeds when mmWave is available. Letting devices use both will help carriers manage capacity, as mmWave will quickly drop off as people go from walking about outside to inside a building.
 
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Analog Kid

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It's not. 5G NR is lower latency than LTE. The band doesn't really make a difference.

The benefit of sub-6 + mmWave is that you'll get seamless coverage from the lower band while seeing improved speeds when mmWave is available. Letting devices use both will help carriers manage capacity, as mmWave will quickly drop off as people go from walking about outside to inside a building.
Ah, so it cuts the latency out of the handoff... Makes sense. Thanks.
 
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PickUrPoison

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Sounds reasonable that Apple would use the X60 is it is a superior platform available to them. They don't jump on the latest tech for the sake of meeting a spec sheet, but prefer to wait a bit to adopt and make it useful.
Is the X60 available to Apple? Qualcomm says the X60 won’t be coming to smartphones until sometime next year.
 
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JPack

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It could be that Apple has first-dibs on the X60 and locked up supply for 2020, forcing everyone else to use X55 for their 2020 models.

TSMC signs contracts to allocate their 5nm capacity. It isn't like a food truck selling hot dogs. AMD, NVIDIA, Broadcom, MediaTek, etc. all have 5nm products in the pipeline with agreed upon delivery time frames.

We would also have to ignore the fact it takes 12-18 months to test a new baseband. Otherwise, iPhone 11 would already be using X55.
 
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CWallace

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Is the X60 available to Apple? Qualcomm says the X60 won’t be coming to smartphones until sometime next year.

Qualcomm "introduced" the chip in February of this year and that "customer samples" would be available in Q1 2020 so that means they were making the chips, at least in low volumes. Qualcomm noted that most of it's features would be introduced in various countries throughout 2020 and into 2021 which might be why they said "5G smartphones featuring Snapdragon X60 are expected to launch in early 2021" because they assumed the first wave of 5G phones would use the X50 and X55 already in production.

As such, I don't see anything that explicitly prevents Apple from getting X60 chips this year in time to use in the iPhone 12 family, especially if they have a deal with TSMC to secure the first production batches for their phones. If supplies of the X60 are constrained, it might be a case where the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max get the X60 and the two "non-Pro" models get the X55.


TSMC signs contracts to allocate their 5nm capacity. It isn't like a food truck selling hot dogs. AMD, NVIDIA, Broadcom, MediaTek, etc. all have 5nm products in the pipeline with agreed upon delivery time frames.

True, but who is to say Apple didn't pay to get the first batches that TSMC makes for Qualcomm.


We would also have to ignore the fact it takes 12-18 months to test a new baseband. Otherwise, iPhone 11 would already be using X55.

Considering Apple does not add features just to meet spec sheets, that they chose not to add 5G into a phone (iPhone 11 family) just because they could is not a surprise. After all, Apple did not incorporate 3G or 4G/LTE into phones that could have had it at launch (iPhone / iPhone 4), but waited till the next model series (iPhone 3G / iPhone 5)
 
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JPack

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Qualcomm "introduced" the chip in February of this year and that "customer samples" would be available in Q1 2020 so that means they were making the chips, at least in low volumes.

"Sampling" means bug testing and finish designing. It doesn't mean the chip is ready.

In 2019, every analyst knew Apple was in trouble because Intel had not sent 5G modem samples. Intel needed to submit samples in early 2019 for Apple to launch iPhone 5G in late 2020.

Every chip manufacturer sends samples ahead of time, usually about a year in advance but it doesn't mean it's ready. Every minor revision of the chip takes months to make because the photomasks alone take weeks and the fab cycle time is about 100 days for 5nm.


True, but who is to say Apple didn't pay to get the first batches that TSMC makes for Qualcomm.

Because that means reserving 5nm fab capacity for a chip that Apple knows isn't complete. Would Apple reserve fab capacity in June 2020 for A15? No, because the chip hasn't completed design.
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Considering Apple does not add features just to meet spec sheets, that they chose not to add 5G into a phone (iPhone 11 family) just because they could is not a surprise. After all, Apple did not incorporate 3G or 4G/LTE into phones that could have had it at launch (iPhone / iPhone 4), but waited till the next model series (iPhone 3G / iPhone 5)

The point is, it takes 12-18 months to test and produce a finished modem.

The Qualcomm X60 modem needs to be tested in all network configurations. 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G. Huawei, Nokia, Ericsson, ZTE, and Cisco hardware.
 
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