Qualcomm today introduced the Snapdragon X65, the world’s first 10 Gigabit 5G modem and antenna system for smartphones, enabling theoretical data speeds up to 10 gigabits per second. Apple will likely use the Snapdragon X65 in 2022 iPhones.
While real-world download speeds will likely remain far below the peak of 10 gigabits per second, devices equipped with the Snapdragon X65 should see faster 5G speeds overall. The modem has many other benefits, too, including improved power efficiency, enhanced coverage for both mmWave and sub-6 GHz bands, and support for all global commercialized mmWave frequencies, including the new n259 (41 GHz) band.
As with the previous-generation Snapdragon X60, the X65 can aggregate data from mmWave and sub-6GHz bands simultaneously to achieve an optimal combination of high-speed and low-latency coverage. The modem is paired with Qualcomm’s new fourth-generation mmWave antenna module for extended mmWave coverage and power efficiency.
mmWave is a set of 5G frequencies that promise ultra-fast speeds at short distances, making it best suited for dense urban areas. By comparison, sub-6GHz 5G is generally slower than mmWave, but the signals travel further, better serving suburban and rural areas. mmWave support on iPhone 12 models is limited to the United States, but rumors suggest that iPhone 13 models may support mmWave in additional countries.
In 2019, Apple and Qualcomm settled a legal battle and reached a multiyear chipset supply agreement, paving the way for Apple to use Qualcomm’s 5G modems, starting with the Snapdragon X55 in iPhone 12 models. Beyond that, a court document from the settlement revealed that Apple will likely use the Snapdragon X60 modem for 2021 iPhones, followed by the Snapdragon X65 in 2022 iPhones.
The Snapdragon X65 could be the last Qualcomm modem used in iPhones, as Barclays analysts and multiple other sources have forecasted that Apple will switch to its own in-house 5G modem for iPhones by 2023.