As legal spat with Apple continues, Qualcomm teases ultra-fast 1.2Gbps LTE mobile chips

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Apple supplier Qualcomm on Tuesday revealed a new LTE modem, the Snapdragon X20, which could push the limits of the cellular technology and theoretically appear in a 2018 iPhone —  if the chipmaker and Apple can get along.

Under ideal conditions the modem can hit downloads up to 1.2 gigabits per second, 20 percent faster than the X16, Qualcomm said. The speed boost was achieved with new carrier aggregation technology pulling in 12 data streams, each up to 100 megabits per second. Upload speeds are significantly slower, but still go up to 150 megabits per second.

Qualcomm is also promising high-quality calls on dual-SIM phones, and support for the 3.5-gigahertz band used by the Citizens Broadband Radio Service, in theory allowing use with private LTE networks.

The X20 is expected to ship in the first half of 2018, which could give Apple enough time to build it into iPhones shipping that fall — if the company expects to continue business with Qualcomm.

Last month it filed a lawsuit against Qualcomm, accusing the latter of withholding almost $1 billion in payments as punishment for cooperating with an investigation by the Korean government, which ultimately led to an $854 million fine. Apple further suggested that Qualcomm is abusing its market position to charge high royalties on standards-essential patents.

Apple is using Intel modems in GSM versions of the iPhone 7 however, and could conceivably divert orders away from Qualcomm if Intel can produce a comparable GSM/CDMA chip.