Will the iPhone 8 be at a Disadvantage by not fully supporting next-gen modems delivering 1 Gigabit Speeds?
Verizon Corp., AT&T Inc. and the rest of the U.S. wireless industry have a big boast for this year's crop of smartphones: thanks to network upgrades, devices will be able to download as much as a gigabit of data in a single second -- speeds 100 times faster than before. But that won't be the case for Apple Inc.'s newest iPhones, devices that go on sale later this year, leaving the company's most important product potentially lagging behind the data performance of rival smartphones, according to a new Bloomberg report.
The report further noted that "The reason stems from the delicate and sometimes complicated way Apple manages the supply of the components embedded in its flagship device -- in this case, the modems, which handle the connection between a phone and the cellular network. One of Apple's suppliers, Qualcomm Inc., sells a modem capable of the 1 gigabit download speeds. Another supplier, Intel Corp., is working on a modem with the same capability, but it won't be ready for the iPhone's introduction, according to people familiar with Apple's decision.
Until Intel is able to offer its chips with matching features, Apple won't enable some of capabilities of the phones running with Qualcomm modems, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plan isn't public. Apple, Qualcomm and Intel declined to comment.
Apple's decision clashes with the marketing plans of a cellular industry desperate to show off faster network speeds to grab market share. The top U.S. wireless carriers -- Verizon AT&T, T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. -- have declared 2017 the year of 1 gigabit speeds.
Apple used two modem suppliers -- and the same technique to mask performance disparities -- for last year's iPhone 7. But the rise of gigabit wireless networks could make the strategy more risky: iPhone users will have a unified experience, no matter what modem is inside the new device, but it could look even less speedy compared to newer gigabit-ready smartphones from other manufacturers." For more on this, read the full Bloomberg report here.
While the industry is dealing with a market that's crying out for innovation to revive growth, faster download speeds is only one of many innovations that could be coming to market this fall. There was a hint during Apple's WWDC keynote this week that they could be ready to introduce Augmented Reality on iDevices later this year along with new iOS 11 refinements and more.
Bloomberg is clearly speculating as to what Apple is likely to do about faster downloads based on what the company did with the iPhone 7. But on this point I think we should wait for the iPhone 8 to debut before swallowing this rumor. It could be that the iPhone 8 Plus may offer the faster speeds or the new iPhone 8 in general as a selling feature. I'm not sure this position on gigabit speed modems is cemented just yet – so stay tuned.
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