Published in Mobiles

iFixit spots Qualcomm modem in iPhone 7 Plus

by on16 September 2016

Snapdragon X12 LT in one

Someone has finally opened up the iPhone 7 Plus and found it uses a Snapdragon X12 LT from Qualcomm. This version of the phone was headed for the Japanese market. 

Fudzilla spent a lot of time investigating the modem inside the new iPhone 7 and found that at least two out of three versions have Qualcomm modems inside. We still want to see if the Model A1778 iPhone 7 and A1784 iPhone 7 Plus, as Apple clearly stated will not work on Verizon and Sprint.  

iFixit has revealed that Apple is using Qualcomm's second best modem. This is not a surprise, they always did that. Qualcomm has a Snapdragon X16 modem capable of 1Gbps download and 150 Mbps upload speed but Apple settled with Snapdragon X12  AKA the Qualcomm MDM9645M LTE Cat. 12 Modem. Some European phones will end up having the Intel modem but we expect that there will be a mix of Qualcomm and Intel modems in Europe too

This modem works at speeds up to 600 Mbps with peak upload speeds of up to 150 Mbps. This is faster than any iPhone to date, and it seems that only customers in Australia on Telstra carrier can use the 600 Mbps speed. Many carriers around the world are flat out trying to roll out the Cat. 12, 600 Mbps download and 150 Mbps upload speed. This is powered by Carrier Aggregation (3x in the downlink, and 2x in the uplink) and higher order modulation (up to 256-QAM in the downlink, and 64-QAM in the uplink).

The orange chip is the Qualcomm 9645 modem. Courtesy of iFixit.

We need to find out if Apple dared to make a 4x4 MIMO phone with four antennas to take full advantage of the Snapdragon X12 modem. The same Snapdragon X12 modem is inside the Snapdragon 820 chipset that powers most high end phones in the Android market.

We saw some demos of the Snapdragon X12 with four antennas at the Mobile World Congress and the prototype phone got close to 600 Mbps, which is faster than anything we’ve seen so far. We suspect that Intel is using its 7360 which can reach 450 Mbps download and 150 Upload but doesn't support features like higher order modulation 256-QAM in the downlink, and 64-QAM in the uplink. Intel doesn’t say what's  the maximum upload for the 7360 modem, but since this is a Cat 10. Modem, it should be a capable of 100 Mbps.

Qualcomm has a modem that is 33.33 percent faster for both upload and download. It lauched Cat.10 devices two years ago, so you cannot really say that Intel has a cutting edge device, especially as the latest greatest standalone Snapdragon X12 is more than two times faster than Intel’s 7360. Intel announced the XMM 7480 modem at the Mobile World Congress in February 2016 but there is a little chance that Apple is using that.

In February Intel planned to start sampling to OEMs in 2H 2016 which would be too tight to make it to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. This modem is capable of Cat 13 download speeds of 450 Mbps and Cat 9 upload  speeds of150 Mbps. It supports a 256QAM downlink and 64QAM uplink for a higher data rate but doesn't have CDMA support.

We will have to wait for someone to crack open the A1778 iPhone 7 and A1784 iPhone 7 Plus powered by Intel to give you a more thorough analysis.  

Last modified on 16 September 2016
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