Last year’s iPhones already support the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard. But this year’s Apple flagships could have even better Wi-Fi connectivity.
That’s because of a small piece of silicon produced by chipmaker Broadcom. Here’s what you should know about the chip and how it could improve the 2020 iPhones.
Last week, Broadcom announced the latest generation of its Wi-Fi chip, the BCM4389. And while normally, Wi-Fi improvements aren’t exactly the most exciting iPhone features, this new chip could bring a number of benefits for Apple’s lineup.
Of course, Broadcom didn’t give any indication that the BCM4389 will end up in this year’s iPhone. But previous supply chain coverage could suggest that it will. (It’ll also likely be used in other Apple devices, like iPads and Macs.)
Back in January, CNBC reported that Broadcom would sell about $15 billion worth of wireless components to Apple, which would be used in upcoming products for the next three to three and a half years.
While that announcement, discovered in an SEC filling, didn’t detail which specific components Broadcom would supply, there’s a good chance that it’ll involve wireless chips.
- This is the most important 2020 iPhone feature according to users
- Apple’s 2020 iPhones Detailed: Major Redesigns, 5G, USB-C, and More
- Apple Planning New iPad Pros, iPhone 9, Apple Tags, New Apple TV, Studio Headphones, and more for Spring Hardware Refresh
That’s because current iPhones already use Broadcom-produced wireless infrastructure. The iPhone 11, for example, sports a Broadcom Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chip, as well as an RF front-end chip for network detection and connectivity.
So the BCM4389 will probably end up in future iPhones, possibly as soon as this year. But what benefits will that bring to consumers?
5 Times more Battery power with support for A/R and V/R
First off, the Broadcom BCM4389 is the world’s first Wi-Fi 6E chip. Importantly, Wi-Fi 6E is a step beyond the already speedy Wi-Fi 6.
That’s because Wi-Fi 6E will take advantage of the 6GHz spectrum bands. That will allow networks to operate with much less interference and better access to clearer spectrum.
If you have a modern Wi-Fi router, you probably already know that Wi-Fi networks typically operate in one of two bands. Right now, that’s usually 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Adding a third spectrum band to the mix will improve the wireless connectivity experience across the board.
Beyond that, the BCM4389 also has some other tricks up its sleeve, including battery-saving performance that’s up to 5 times better than the previous generation of Wi-Fi 6 chip. That could result in much better battery life for the end iPhone user.
Lastly, Broadcom says that the BCM4389 is also ideal for augmented and virtual reality devices, which could play an important role amid rumors of a head-mounted Apple AR headset. With low-power but stable connectivity, the BCM4389 chip could make the Apple AR Headset experience possible.
Other wireless improvements
It’s also hard to overstate just how much faster the connectivity on this year’s iPhones will be. While this year’s iPhone may adopt the Broadcom tech, they’re also certainly going to be 5G-compatible.
This year’s Apple devices are thought to use the latest Qualcomm 5G modem, which could support both mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G networks.
Combined with Wi-Fi 6E and other connectivity improvements, there’s little doubt that the 2020 iPhones — and beyond — will be the best and fastest devices Apple has made yet.
What are some of the features that you are excited about in the next release of the iPhone? Please sound off using the comments below.
Mike is a freelance journalist from San Diego, California.
While he primarily covers Apple and consumer technology, he has past experience writing about public safety, local government, and education for a variety of publications.
He’s worn quite a few hats in the journalism field, including writer, editor, and news designer.