Apple escalating use of Intel modems for 'iPhone 8' - report

Posted:
in iPhone
Faced with an ongoing legal battle with Qualcomm, Apple is reportedly ramping up its use of Intel baseband chips in iPhones -- despite previously weak performance from Intel's parts.




While Intel supplied about 30 percent of Apple's iPhone 7 chips in 2016, the proportion has risen to about 50 percent for new iPhones in 2017, DigiTimes said on Thursday. Some market watchers cited by the publication suggest that the ratio could go past 70 percent in 2018, since Apple and Qualcomm have so far been unwilling to make concessions.

When Apple began using Intel's chips last year, the components were found only in GSM-based iPhones for AT&T and T-Mobile, since Intel didn't yet have CDMA-compatible technology for carriers like Sprint and Verizon. In fact it was discovered that Apple was deliberately limiting the performance of Qualcomm chips, since Intel's chips had substantially lower peak bandwidth.

Since then, however, Intel has launched its XMM 7560 LTE modem, which supports CDMA and can theoretically hit gigabit speeds. The chip will presumably find its way into Apple's "iPhone 8," and possibly the "iPhone 7s" and "7s Plus."

Apple launched a lawsuit against Qualcomm in January, leveling many accusations, for instance saying that Qualcomm was abusing its "monopoly power" to demand high royalties and force chip buyers to license patents. Above all it charged that Qualcomm was withholding almost $1 billion in rebates in retaliation for helping a South Korean antitrust investigation.

A countersuit was launched in April, and since then Qualcomm has also sought a court order asking that Apple's suppliers keep paying royalties. Those suppliers stopped paying Qualcomm earlier this year.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,336member
    I know everyone wants the fastest speeds possible, but a number of network factors often limit these speeds anyway.  I think for those that have Intel vs Qualcomm modems in their iPhone 7's, you wouldn't even know the difference in real-life scenarios.  Most of the time, my iPhone 7's cellular connection is faster or as fast as any WiFi network I can find anyway.  I now keep WiFi turned off and most of the time just connect my laptop to the phone for tethered access.  Have you used public WiFi anywhere lately? It's terrible and insecure.

    I just checked (because I never cared before) and I have the Intel modem.  Works great!  Again, it's typically faster than I could care for it to be (About 36Mb download and 16Mb upload with 3 bars).  I guess maybe I'm just still amazed that I get that sort of bandwidth on a device that fits in my pocket no matter where I take it.
    jony0Metriacanthosaurusktappelongpathjbdragonwatto_cobraGeorgeBMacwillcropoint
  • Reply 2 of 31
    FatmanFatman Posts: 299member
    Fairly certain the new Intel parts match if not beat the Qualcomm parts - otherwise why would Apple pick a fight with Qualcomm without a backup vendor that at least matches performance of their current supplier. It's a similar scenario to Imagination ... you can bet they have another graphic alternative before they announced they are dumping them.
    jony0watto_cobraGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 3 of 31
    Does Apple sell any iPhones with intel modem's in the US? It would surely have to be marked differently for use on different networks surely - I'm just thinking I'd be pretty pissed off if I bought an iPhone, unlocked it then found it doesn't work on my network. Conversely, there is no real reason to use the Qualcomm modem outside of the US as CDMA is pretty much defunct elsewhere or was never used in the first place.
  • Reply 4 of 31
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,047member
    How many patents does Intel have covering CDMA technology? I thought Qualcomm owned just about all of them? If Qualcomm does, are they licensing their patents to Intel and then also charging Apple?

    I have an iPhone 6S so I assume it's using Qualcomm's chips. My Verizon LTE coverage is weak where I live, only getting 7.8 down and 0.31 up with 2 dots. Change back to Comcast with my Airport router and it's 231 down and 12 up and I'm not right next to the base station. Cellular is great when you don't have access to WiFi but all those figures about how fast cellular is or will be only count when you're near a cell tower, which doesn't happen except along I-5 in the Pacific Northwest. Of course, Comcast will say use their xfinity WiFi back channel on Comcast installations but this is slower than cellular.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 5 of 31
    adm1 said:
    Does Apple sell any iPhones with intel modem's in the US? It would surely have to be marked differently for use on different networks surely - I'm just thinking I'd be pretty pissed off if I bought an iPhone, unlocked it then found it doesn't work on my network. Conversely, there is no real reason to use the Qualcomm modem outside of the US as CDMA is pretty much defunct elsewhere or was never used in the first place.

    They do.  See https://www.apple.com/iphone-7/specs/

      "Models A1778 and A1784 do not support CDMA networks, such as those used by Verizon and Sprint."

  • Reply 6 of 31
    jkichline said:
    I know everyone wants the fastest speeds possible, but a number of network factors often limit these speeds anyway.  I think for those that have Intel vs Qualcomm modems in their iPhone 7's, you wouldn't even know the difference in real-life scenarios.  Most of the time, my iPhone 7's cellular connection is faster or as fast as any WiFi network I can find anyway.  I now keep WiFi turned off and most of the time just connect my laptop to the phone for tethered access.  Have you used public WiFi anywhere lately? It's terrible and insecure.

    I just checked (because I never cared before) and I have the Intel modem.  Works great!  Again, it's typically faster than I could care for it to be (About 36Mb download and 16Mb upload with 3 bars).  I guess maybe I'm just still amazed that I get that sort of bandwidth on a device that fits in my pocket no matter where I take it.
    Agreed. Latency is a far bigger problem than actual bandwidth these days. The focus should shift to improving that.
    longpathjbdragonTomE
  • Reply 7 of 31
    tdknoxtdknox Posts: 64member
    adm1 said:
    Does Apple sell any iPhones with intel modem's in the US? It would surely have to be marked differently for use on different networks surely - I'm just thinking I'd be pretty pissed off if I bought an iPhone, unlocked it then found it doesn't work on my network. Conversely, there is no real reason to use the Qualcomm modem outside of the US as CDMA is pretty much defunct elsewhere or was never used in the first place.
    South Korea and Japan use a variant of CDMA <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CDMA2000/>.
  • Reply 8 of 31
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,096member
    When they talk about CDMA network access, they are talking about the 2G/3G CDMA networks that Sprint and Verizon have/had.  So-called 4G/LTE networks on Verizon and Sprint are not included.  So even the Intel chip version can run on Verizon and Sprint as long as it does not fall back to older network and stays at the LTE or 4G W-CDMA/HSPDA networks.

    I don't know if the Japan (and I think Korea version) of "CDMA" was ever supported by the iPhone.  iPhone compatibility came along in Japan when they went to W-CDMA for "4G".   The Japanese CDMA was a local variant that no one else but maybe Korea supported.

    And technically, the 4G stuff is "CDMA" technology even if it is not a "CDMA" network in the iPhone specs.  It uses CDMA type data signaling and GSM type control signaling and is called W-CDMA (is LTE related ??) so may fall under Qualcomm patents.
    chiawillcropoint
  • Reply 9 of 31
    ktappektappe Posts: 769member
    Metriacanthosaurus said:

    Latency is a far bigger problem than actual bandwidth these days. The focus should shift to improving that.

    Agree, but the current administration is working to strip the FCC from any monitoring or oversight of networks. So don't count on the issue being resolved anytime soon.
    GeorgeBMacSpamSandwich
  • Reply 10 of 31
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,789member
    jkichline said:
    Have you used public WiFi anywhere lately? It's terrible and insecure.
    I was at the Apple Store yesterday and they provide public WiFi with no password. I had to reluctantly enter my iCloud password in the clear at the genius bar so they could look at my MBP which was having issues upgrading to macOS Sierra. After an hour and a half wait time, they fixed it in 2 minutes.
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 11 of 31
    big kcbig kc Posts: 118member
    I wouldn't send anything of any value over an open public WiFi network either. I have a VPN client for travel (Nord VPN in my case) - you should have one too for situations like this, or hotel WiFi, airplanes, coffee shops, etc.
  • Reply 12 of 31
    volcan said:
    jkichline said:
    Have you used public WiFi anywhere lately? It's terrible and insecure.
    I was at the Apple Store yesterday and they provide public WiFi with no password. I had to reluctantly enter my iCloud password in the clear at the genius bar so they could look at my MBP which was having issues upgrading to macOS Sierra. After an hour and a half wait time, they fixed it in 2 minutes.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but encrypted (via HTTPS or VPN) traffic over public wifi is safe from run-of-the-mill cyber threats.  So you weren't really entering your iCloud password "in the clear." 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 31
    ktappe said:
    Metriacanthosaurus said:

    Latency is a far bigger problem than actual bandwidth these days. The focus should shift to improving that.

    Agree, but the current administration is working to strip the FCC from any monitoring or oversight of networks. So don't count on the issue being resolved anytime soon.

    I never looked to the FCC to improve the quality of service or bandwidth or speed of mobile networks.  That's what market competition is for, right?
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 14 of 31
    linkmanlinkman Posts: 916member
    volcan said:
    jkichline said:
    Have you used public WiFi anywhere lately? It's terrible and insecure.
    I was at the Apple Store yesterday and they provide public WiFi with no password. I had to reluctantly enter my iCloud password in the clear at the genius bar so they could look at my MBP which was having issues upgrading to macOS Sierra. After an hour and a half wait time, they fixed it in 2 minutes.
    I would understand the reluctance to do so. Their public Wifi is indeed unsecured but the connection to iCloud uses SHA 256 encryption. If someone can crack that please tell me.
  • Reply 15 of 31
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,970member
    linkman said:
    volcan said:
    jkichline said:
    Have you used public WiFi anywhere lately? It's terrible and insecure.
    I was at the Apple Store yesterday and they provide public WiFi with no password. I had to reluctantly enter my iCloud password in the clear at the genius bar so they could look at my MBP which was having issues upgrading to macOS Sierra. After an hour and a half wait time, they fixed it in 2 minutes.
    I would understand the reluctance to do so. Their public Wifi is indeed unsecured but the connection to iCloud uses SHA 256 encryption. If someone can crack that please tell me.
    Not knowing how someone can hack a system or recording unsecured local data to then later unencrypt after a bug has been found are always possible. 

    edited June 2017 gatorguy
  • Reply 16 of 31
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,970member
    volcan said:
    jkichline said:
    Have you used public WiFi anywhere lately? It's terrible and insecure.
    I was at the Apple Store yesterday and they provide public WiFi with no password. I had to reluctantly enter my iCloud password in the clear at the genius bar so they could look at my MBP which was having issues upgrading to macOS Sierra. After an hour and a half wait time, they fixed it in 2 minutes.
    1a) They offer and Ethernet connection option.

    1b) You can connect an iOS-based device to Ethernet using their Lightning-to-USB adapter and then their USB-to-Ethernet adapter.

    2) Get a VPN. Not just for your Mac, but also for your iPhone on those occasions—no matter how rare—that you'll be connecting to an open or closed WiFI that you don't control, like at a business.
    Donvermo
  • Reply 17 of 31
    DonvermoDonvermo Posts: 61member
    volcan said:
    jkichline said:
    Have you used public WiFi anywhere lately? It's terrible and insecure.
    I was at the Apple Store yesterday and they provide public WiFi with no password. I had to reluctantly enter my iCloud password in the clear at the genius bar so they could look at my MBP which was having issues upgrading to macOS Sierra. After an hour and a half wait time, they fixed it in 2 minutes.
    It's for situations like this that I have a VPN, if you only seldomly use it then get something like TunnelBear which has a free limited bandwidth option so you can at least enter passwords in a more secure manner. If you don't trust them then find someone else you do or set up your own. In any case it's at least safer than entering your passwords through an open wifi connection.
  • Reply 18 of 31
    DonvermoDonvermo Posts: 61member

    ktappe said:
    Metriacanthosaurus said:

    Latency is a far bigger problem than actual bandwidth these days. The focus should shift to improving that.

    Agree, but the current administration is working to strip the FCC from any monitoring or oversight of networks. So don't count on the issue being resolved anytime soon.

    I never looked to the FCC to improve the quality of service or bandwidth or speed of mobile networks.  That's what market competition is for, right?
    Well I think the FCC is supposed to ensure that market competition indeed focuses on that instead of a race to the bottom to see who screws over their customers least. (selling customer data and other weird practices)
    GeorgeBMacSpamSandwich
  • Reply 19 of 31
    RTCRTC Posts: 14member
    I have the Intel modem in my iPhone 7 Plus and it sucks. My Samsung Galaxy S8+ and my Xaomi Mi Mix have better signal reception. While I can take calls with these devices while sitting in my living room, the iPhone can't or calls are distorted.
    Maybe it also has to do with the antenna design but I rather suspect the Intel modem.
  • Reply 20 of 31
    djsherlydjsherly Posts: 1,020member
    linkman said:
    volcan said:
    jkichline said:
    Have you used public WiFi anywhere lately? It's terrible and insecure.
    I was at the Apple Store yesterday and they provide public WiFi with no password. I had to reluctantly enter my iCloud password in the clear at the genius bar so they could look at my MBP which was having issues upgrading to macOS Sierra. After an hour and a half wait time, they fixed it in 2 minutes.
    I would understand the reluctance to do so. Their public Wifi is indeed unsecured but the connection to iCloud uses SHA 256 encryption. If someone can crack that please tell me.

    SHA256 is a hashing algorithm. It's not used to encrypt because hashes can't be reversed (in theory).

    FWIW the only part of the SSL/TLS tunnel that uses PKI is the handshake in order to share a symmetric key between the parties. The symmetric key is then used for encryption for the session. PKI is too compute intensive to encrypt transactional traffic. I would assume that if you snooped the entire session you'd eventually be able to brute force the symmetric session key and derive your password in the network packets. Although I do understand that encryption like AES means you'd need an enormous amount of data and time to work out the session key. For all intents and purposes, it's basically impervious.

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