The next set of iterative iPhones, in addition to the iPhone 8, reportedly launching sometime in the fall, won't be capable of gigabit cellular connections, largely because of Apple's legal battle with Qualcomm.
The Next iPhone Models Won't Feature Faster LTE Speeds
Apple relies on both Intel and Qualcomm for mobile modems, but currently, the only one able to deliver gigabit internet speeds is Qualcomm's X16 LTE modem. That's a shame, because all major U.S. carriers are scrambling to incorporate faster download speeds this year to have a leg up in the race and outpunch everyone else along the way. Similarly, manufacturers are launching new components to push this reality further.
As Bloomberg reports, carriers are trying to boast this year's crop of smartphones thanks to network upgrades, and such devices will be able to download data 100 times faster than previous — with the exception of Apple's upcoming flagships.
Intel is making its own modem with the same capability as Qualcomm's, but it reportedly won't be ready in time for the iPhone 7s and iPhone 8's arrival, the report adds, so Apple can't come running toward Intel for the modem. In theory, Apple could instead approach Qualcomm, but its relationship with the company is rocky at best.
Apple And Qualcomm Aren't Very Good Friends At The Moment
Apple is currently in a legal fight with Qualcomm, accusing the supplier of maintaining an illegal monopoly on modems.
By contrast, Samsung relies on Qualcomm's X16 LTE modem; that's why the Galaxy S8 is capable of delivering gigabit internet connections. When the next batch of iPhones launch — rumors suggest three models: iPhone 7s, iPhone 7s Plus, and the iPhone 8 — they'll certainly pale in comparison with the Galaxy S8's network capabilities.
Needless to say, Apple wants to rely on Qualcomm in any capacity. Sure, the forthcoming iPhone units will still come with Qualcomm modems, but Apple is making sure that not all of them will: Some models will pack in Intel modems, for good measure.
Apple will refuse to enable faster speeds on iPhones will Qualcomm modems, because as Bloomberg reports, it doesn't want to divide its iPhone audience into two categories: those who can get faster connections, and those who can only receive standard LTE speeds. The move also serves a different purpose, altogether — to undermine Qualcomm's dominance in the smartphone market.
Does It Even Matter, Though?
But of course, we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves here. Apple might have nothing to worry about after all, since it's not certain exactly when all major U.S. carriers can confidently say that their network boasts gigabit speeds. Obviously, even with a faster smartphone modem in place, it'll be useless without the proper network coverage — the equipment and technology are there, but not the intended functionality. It's akin to having headphones with no sound coming out.
At present, carriers are one-upping each other to become the first to offer a faster version of LTE, but it's hard to paint a landscape without knowing what it looks like. The Verge thinks it could take two to three years before we reach true gigabit speeds. So, the forthcoming iPhones not supporting faster LTE connections won't even matter.