Qualcomm shows off its newest modem — and the iPhone 15 is likely to miss out

Qualcomm Snapdragon X75 modem
(Image credit: Qualcomm)

Qualcomm just announced the Snapdragon X75, a new version of modem for smartphones that promises improved connectivity and better power management among other advances for the best 5G phones. Just don't expect to see the Snapdragon X75 in this fall's iPhone 15.

It all comes down to timing. While Qualcomm expects the X75 to start appearing in commercial devices in the second half of this year, the modem's arrival comes after trial production on this fall's iPhone release is reportedly underway. Instead, the iPhone 15 is more likely to feature Qualcomm's Snapdragon X70 modem, which the chip maker announced a year ago.

That's a shame as the X75 improves upon one of the X70's more noteworthy additions. The X70 introduced a 5G AI processor for the first time, tapping artificial intelligence to optimize the phone's antenna and better manage 5G beams going to and from the device. The X75 gets a next-generation AI processor, which Qualcomm says will see a 2.5x performance improvement over its predecessor.

Qualcomm's touting other changes for the X75 modem, which the company bills as the first 5G Advanced modem, built to support the next stage of 5G development. To that end, the modem features a new architecture with converged mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G — a move that Qualcomm says will provide greater flexibility for network operators to deliver 5G connectivity. And the X75 includes Snapdragon Satellite connectivity as well, giving phones additional ways to stay connected.

Additional benefits to the Snapdragon X75 modem include a 25% smaller printed circuit board area and up to 22% power savings. The end result, Qualcomm says, should be improvements to speeds, coverage, mobility, link robustness and location accuracy.

iPhones will have to wait for all that, which probably helps explain Apple's long-rumored desire to start building its own smartphone modems. (Apple's desire to maintain as much control over hardware and software is also behind that push.) A number of reports over the years have suggested that Apple is in the process of building up a team to oversee in-house modem development, though reports claim Apple is still relying on Qualcomm for iPhone 15 modems. That includes comments by Qualcomm itself that it's expecting to supply most of the modems featured in Apple phones this year.

All iPhone 14 models feature Qualcomm's X65 modem, which the parts maker first introduced in 2021. In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy S23 arriving in stores this Friday (February 17) features the more advanced X70 modem to go with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset optimized for Samsung's phones.

Qualcomm anticipates the X75 modem appearing in more than just smartphones, with the modem targeting use cases in computing, fixed wireless access, automotive and industrial 'Internet of Things' among other categories.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.