When Apple launched its new set of smartphones and watches last month, the company highlighted that its products are increasingly packed with its own custom-designed and upgraded processors and hardware. Now, attention has turned to the one area where Apple still needs a third-party partner: The modem.
While the new iPhones still have variants using either Intel or Qualcomm modems, it is Apple’s new Watch Series 3 products that are proving to be the most intriguing as, for the first time, LTE/UMTS cellular connectivity has been added to the line-up.
ABI Research’s Teardown service just uncovered that Apple is using a Qualcomm modem in the Watch 3 to fulfil this cellular obligation, reinforcing Qualcomm’s leadership in modem design. At first glance, only using a Qualcomm modem in the Watch 3 seems at odds with the modem selection used in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8. For those, Apple chose to use Qualcomm modems to support CDMA networks and Intel modems to support most UMTS networks. In contrast, the cellular version of the Watch 3 does not support CDMA networks, which would seemingly make Intel the potential main supplier of the modem. However, it is the smaller form factor of the Watch that effectively makes Qualcomm the obvious modem choice. The high levels of integration found in the Qualcomm chip, notably for GPS and transceivers, provide significant advantages over other competing modem offerings.
“Apple’s latest Watch 3 has set new standards for integration density”, says Jim Mielke, Vice President at ABI Research. “Our Teardown analysis has revealed that the board area in the Watch 3 compared to the Watch 2 has barely changed, yet a multiband LTE modem has been added. Aiding in tight integration were increase substrate layers on the PCB, and compact modules from Skyworks, Avago, and Qualcomm."
Additionally, this teardown analysis found that the Watch 3 has a smaller capacity battery, but longer life compared to its predecessor. This also suggests far more efficient components in the device as extra power consumption is needed to handle support for the cellular integration.
These findings are from ABI Research’s Teardown Analysis which includes high-resolution photos and x-rays, pinpoint power measurements, detailed parts lists, and block diagrams.
About ABI Research
ABI Research is a global technology intelligence firm delivering actionable research and strategic guidance to technology leaders, innovators, and decision makers around the world. Our research focuses on the transformative technologies that are dramatically reshaping industries, economies, and workforces today.
ABI Research提供开创性的研究和战略指导，帮助客户了解日新月异的技术。 自1990年以来，我们已与全球数百个领先的技术品牌，尖端公司，具有远见的政府机构以及创新的贸易团体建立了合作关系。 我们帮助客户创造真实的业务成果。
For more information about ABI Research’s services, contact us at +1.516.624.2500 in the Americas, +44.203.326.0140 in Europe, +65.6592.0290 in Asia-Pacific or visit www.abiresearch.com.
Asia: +65 6950.5670