Apple has 'locked down' RF suppliers for next iPhone, may move to advanced filter tech

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
An industry analysis of the U.S. semi-conductor market released on Thursday claims that Apple has already decided which companies will supply the important radio chips in the next-generation iPhone, and one of the choices suggest that the handset will use advanced RF filtering technology.

Analysts at Barclays see the general internal architecture of the next iPhone as remaining largely similar to the firm's most recent report, but adjusted what they believe to be the likely suppliers for some components.

Massachusetts-based analog semiconductor maker Skyworks is seen as the biggest incremental winner and will provide the Band 13 and 17 LTE power amplifiers ($0.75 x 2), the 2G/EDGE power amplifier module ($1.00) and the WLAN PA/low noise amplifier ($0.50) in the upcoming iPhone. Together, the three chips account for $3.00 in circuitry compared to the company's $1.20 in components seen in the current iPhone 4S.

Perhaps the most surprising discovery is the possibility that Apple will replace current surface acoustic wave (SAW) RF filters with film bulk acoustic resonators (FBARs). SAW devices have been used in past iterations of the iPhone, including the iPhone 4S, and Apple was expected to continue using the parts in the next-gen handset. Recent breakthroughs in FBAR manufacturing have brought down the size and raised unit efficiency to a level that makes it a prime candidate for a smartphone maker looking to squeeze the most circuitry into an increasingly tight area.

Avago Technologies, a spinoff company that began life as HP's components division in the early 1960's, is pegged as an iPhone RF filter supplier and has recently made significant additions to its FBAR capacity, allocating tens of millions of dollars on the component. This is a strong signal that the company is planning on a substantial ramp up in part production in the near future, possibly for Apple's next handset. Avago believes that it can scale down FBARs without degrading performance, which would change the size, price and performance metrics that previously limited the devices to certain bandwidths.

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With the new FBAR chips, which would be filtering on two 3G Bands, Avago could bump its piece of the iPhone component pie to $3.00 compared to the $2.25 seen in the 4S.

Usual players TriQuint and RF Micro Devices are also seen as supplying integral components, including WLAN PA/LNA units and antenna tuning ICs.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12

    Quote:


    Apple has 'locked down' RF suppliers...



     


    I think you mean 'locked in' or 'signed contracts with'

  • Reply 2 of 12

    Quote:


    Avago Technologies, a spinoff company that began life as HP's components division in the early 1960's...



     


    HP once was a leader in so many areas... Reduced now to scraping with upstarts over the bones of the PC industry... They sold their long-term future for a short-term win.


     

  • Reply 3 of 12
    zeno32zeno32 Posts: 2member


    So, after a quick curiosity Wikipedia.. it looks like Band 4 is AWS.  Next iPhone coming to T-Mobile?

  • Reply 4 of 12
    zeno32zeno32 Posts: 2member


    So, after a quick curiosity Wikipedia..  it looks like Band 4 is AWS.  Next iPhone coming to T-Mobile??

  • Reply 5 of 12
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Zeno32 View Post


    So, after a quick curiosity Wikipedia..  it looks like Band 4 is AWS.  Next iPhone coming to T-Mobile??



     


    That would be a minor miracle. T-Mobile getting the iPhone after a whole raft of small providers I've never even heard of?... Outrageous!

  • Reply 6 of 12
    quinneyquinney Posts: 2,528member


    I'm glad they are using FBAR rather than the obsolete FUBAR filters.

  • Reply 7 of 12
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    I think you mean 'locked in' or 'signed contracts with'

    Either way, it's silly to even mention it at this point. Virtually everyone thinks the next iPhone is no more than 5 months away. You can be absolutely certain that the components were selected quite a while ago.

    The second part of the article (regarding advanced filter tech) is more interesting if you're into that stuff.
  • Reply 8 of 12

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Zeno32 View Post


    So, after a quick curiosity Wikipedia.. it looks like Band 4 is AWS.  Next iPhone coming to T-Mobile?



     


    No changes are needed on the iPhone.


     


    T-Mobile is currently refarming their GPRS frequencies to use for HSPA+ which will allow them to support 1900MHz that the iPhone uses for "3G/4G" data.

  • Reply 9 of 12
    noelosnoelos Posts: 118member


    Still not delivering compatibility with non-North American carriers then. After the regulatory run-ins calling the new iPad "4G", it would have been good if they had looked at bands used by worldwide carriers and catered to those too. Their competitors don't ignore these massive markets, so can continue to eat away at Apple's market share there.


     


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_LTE_networks

  • Reply 10 of 12
    ljocampoljocampo Posts: 657member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by noelos View Post


    Still not delivering compatibility with non-North American carriers then. After the regulatory run-ins calling the new iPad "4G", it would have been good if they had looked at bands used by worldwide carriers and catered to those too. Their competitors don't ignore these massive markets, so can continue to eat away at Apple's market share there.


     


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_LTE_networks



     


    You don't really believe that Apple didn't look at the bands in all the markets? My guess is they did that before the 1st iPhone came out. They just needed the right chip and size to develop that can cover all the bands. When the chip get smaller and more efficient. When Apple gets that type of chip, you'll see a "world" iPhone. It's cheaper and easier to make just one model smartphone and handle the multiple bands onboard.  

  • Reply 11 of 12
    waybacmacwaybacmac Posts: 309member


    Paying more for smaller components? A smaller phone? No, with 4G I'm thinking same size, bigger battery.

  • Reply 12 of 12
    pdq2pdq2 Posts: 270member


    Probably just me, but "FBAR" (chip) is too uncomfortably close to "FUBAR".

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