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iPhone 13 leak just confirmed big 5G upgrade

iPhone 13/iPhone 12S concept
(Image credit: Jermaine Smit/LetsGoDigital)

We're still early in 2021 and iPhone 13 rumors are already going hard. Although we've heard about upcoming features such as a 120Hz refresh rate on the displays and the possibility of a portless iPhone 13 Pro, other details about the future Apple phone are starting to emerge.

One of those is the 5G modem in the upcoming iPhone series, which is how Apple's new devices will access the next generation wireless broadband. The iPhone 12 uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 modem, which lacks the carrier aggregation features of the faster X60.

The iPhone 13 is expected to use Qualcomm's X60 modem, which is manufactured using a 5nm process. This modem is more efficient and smaller than its 7nm predecessor. More importantly, it'll allow the iPhone 13 to aggregate data from both mmWave and sub-6Ghz 5G signal simultaneously.

That means the phone will be able to access multiple flavors of 5G at once, leading to higher speeds and lower latency. You can check out our 5G guide if you want know more about the different technologies at play here.

We've previously heard rumors that the X60 was slated for the iPhone 13, but a new report from DigiTimes all but confirms the move. Interestingly, it will reportedly be Apple rival Samsung that handles manufacturing for Qualcomm's modem.

Of course, the X60 is no longer Qualcomm's top-of-the-line modem. That would be the Snapdragon X65 announced earlier this month, as it's capable of reaching 10 Gbps speeds (not that those speeds are possible in the real world, given the current state of 5G networks). MacRumors reports that Apple isn't likely to use the X65 in its phones until next year.

After that, it's likely that Apple will design its own 5G modems in-house, just as it does for its A-series processors. 

Jordan Palmer

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. It's hard to nail down one thing that Jordan is passionate about, since his attention span for a single given topic or activity doesn't last long. Jordan tends to lurk on social media, but you can best reach him on Twitter: @jccpalmer — his Instagram feed is mostly photos of his cat.