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Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon X70 modem will be available later this year and has AI capabilities.
Qualcomm has just unveiled a much-upgraded modem for 5G phones. However, the modems’ release date may leave future Apple products, such as the iPhone 14, on the outside looking in at Qualcomm’s enhanced component.
The Snapdragon X70 5G Modem-RF System, which was unveiled this week at MWC 2022 in Barcelona, is Qualcomm’s newest modem-to-antenna product geared at high-end 5G phones. The Snapdragon X70, like the Snapdragon X65 before it, should be able to deliver 5G rates of up to 10 Gigabits per second (though no 5G network currently offers that kind of performance). But there’s something more about this modem that’s more essential than the speed.
Qualcomm claims that the Snapdragon X70 will have the world’s first 5G AI processor. The modem system should be able to employ artificial intelligence to improve a phone’s antenna and better control 5G beams flowing to and from a 5G phone as a result of this. Qualcomm believes AI will be especially valuable for mmWave-based 5G networks in stadiums and arenas, however, AI can also assist with sub-6GHz 5G transmissions.
All of these should result in increased speed, reduced latency, and improved performance. To that end, Qualcomm claims that the new modem will benefit from AI-based adaptive antenna tuning, which may increase context detection by up to 30% for faster average speeds and coverage.
It sounds great, but given the date of the modem’s debut, the Snapdragon X70 may never make it inside one of Apple’s iPhones. The Snapdragon X70 will be available in the second part of this year, with Qualcomm anticipating phones incorporating the modem around late 2022.
The iPhone 14 is thus left out of the equation. Apple’s next flagship phone is slated to be released in September, but reports say it will employ Qualcomm’s X65 modem, which is presently found in Samsung’s Galaxy S22 flagships. The X65 was announced over a year ago, but it didn’t arrive in time for the iPhone 13, which uses Qualcomm’s X60 modem.
This is when things start to get interesting. Apple is widely expected to begin developing its own modems for future iPhones, with most analysts predicting that the changeover would occur with the debut of the iPhone 15 in 2023. By that time, Qualcomm’s X70 modem is expected to be found in many of the finest Android phones, giving them an AI-powered advantage over Apple’s modem.
We’ve previously seen how a modem that isn’t up to date may degrade the performance of a flagship phone. The Pixel 6 is equipped with a Samsung modem that is essentially similar to an earlier Snapdragon X55 modem. The X60 is used by the majority of Pixel 6 competitors. That modem is not only slower, but it also appears to have an influence on battery life, at least in our Pixel 6 tests.
It’s important to realize that all of this modem discussion is a long way off. The iPhone 14 is expected to employ the same Qualcomm as its primary smartphone competitors this autumn, and there’s no way of knowing how the modem Apple uses in 2023 will compare to the X70.
For that matter, we won’t know how well the X70 performs until it appears in phones at the end of the year. However, if Apple carves out its own route in smartphone components, it’ll be interesting to see how this affects any iPhone vs. Android comparisons.