A newly surfaced report has provided a small amount of insight into the potential supply chain of LTE chips intended for use within Apple’s upcoming iPhone 7. According to the recently published report, Intel will be responsible for the provision of up to 50-percent of the faster LTE chips that will be packed into the iPhone 7, which is due to be revealed later this year. The report is currently unconfirmed, but does tie in rather nicely with recent speculation about the potential for Qualcomm to lose one of its biggest accounts to a rival company.
We’ve already been privy to a number of rumors – dating back as far as early 2015 – suggesting that Apple would ultimately move away from using Qualcomm as a supplier of LTE modem chips for its iPhone hardware. That change of supply hasn’t actually come to fruition yet, but Qualcomm itself gave one of the biggest hints yet last month that the move could be coming, with CEO Steve Mollenkopf “assuming” that a major customer would move to a rival.
It now looks as though that major customer is Apple, and the rival is Intel. As part of the supply chain process, sources are suggesting that Intel will look to enlist the manufacturing and testing expertise of the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and King Yuan Electronics (KYE) to manufacture and put the chips through quality assurance.
Intel will itself package the modem chips for the upcoming new iPhones, but have contracted Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and tester King Yuan Electronics (KYEC) to manufacture the chips.
It’s very unlikely that either Apple or Intel will move to publicly confirm this new partnership, but all of the known information and speculation does suggest that it’s a legitimate move to a new supplier. CLSA Securities analyst Srini Pajjuri has previously issued a research note earlier in the year suggesting that Intel had secured a “significant portion” of orders for faster LTE chips for next-generation devices. Those chips that may find themselves iPhone 7 bound could offer theoretical download speeds of up to 450Mbps, with uplink speeds of up to 100Mbps.
From a real world consumer perspective, if the iPhone 7 does ship with these faster Intel LTE chips, then it could introduce faster download speeds and more efficient web browsing, as well as improved efficiency when streaming media over cellular from services like Hulu or Netflix.
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