Apple is designing its own 5G antenna module to be used in its upcoming 5G-capable iPhones after it was less than happy with the version Qualcomm presented, reports Fast Company.
A source with knowledge of Apple’s plans says Apple “balked” at the design of the QTM 525 5G millimeter-wave antenna module offered by Qualcomm because it “doesn’t fit into the sleek industrial design Apple wants for the new phone.” (Translation: The antenna was too thick.)
While Apple will reportedly develop the antenna module, the 5G chip will still be provided by Qualcomm. Apple is said to be hedging its bets a bit though, as it is said to be working on a design the uses both the Qualcomm modem and Qualcomm antenna, just in case.
Many of my readers may remember Apple hasn’t had the best of luck with in-house antenna designs in the past. The iPhone 4 comes to mind, which had an antenna design that resulted in dropped calls and other issues when the iPhone 4 was held in a way that covered the antennas. Fast Company‘s source says that another recent Apple antenna design “required twice as much power as comparable antennas to produce the same amount of radio signal.”
Apple’s 2020 iPhone lineup is expected to be 5G capable and be equipped with Qualcomm’s X55 5G modem chip that offers 7Gb/s peak download speeds and 3Gb/s upload speeds.
5G antenna design for mmWave networks is tougher than other types of antennas, as they send and receive higher frequency signals, leaving less room for error. 5G performance also relies heavily on antenna design.
The reasons Apple wants to use its own antennas are said to be twofold. One, because of design reasons and two, because Apple wants as few Qualcomm parts in the iPhone as possible. The report’s source says Apple feels it is “getting screwed on royalties” by Qualcomm.
Apple is rumored to be working on its own 5G modem chips for use in future iPhones (Apple purchased Intel’s modem chip business last year after Intel exited the mobile modem chip development market, which gives Apple a bit of a rolling start on development), but that technology isn’t ready yet. So until then, Apple will have to bite the bullet and use Qualcomm modems.