Apple's new iPhones go on sale today and the first device teardowns show that Intel's chips are inside some models, replacing Qualcomm's offerings, among other interesting observations. Starting with the iPhone 7, a teardown by research firm Chipworks shows that the device now officially has Intel inside, confirming the rumors that had brewed for months that Intel would become a supplier of LTE modems for the smartphone giant. Chipworks checked an iPhone 7 aimed at the North American market, the iPhone A1778, which included four Intel components: the baseband LTE modem (PMB9943), two transceivers (PMB5750) and a power management chip (PMB6826).
The Intel chips inside the iPhone replace a Qualcomm LTE modem and a number of components from other companies. However, for some versions of the iPhone, Apple will continue to use Qualcomm modems, as Intel’s modem doesn’t support CDMA, or code division multiple access, a cellular technology used on some LTE networks. Qualcomm’s modems support CDMA. Verizon and Sprint rely on CDMA for their networks, meaning Intel-equipped phones won’t work on those networks. iPhones with Intel inside will only work on AT&T T and T-Mobile networks in the United States.
It appears that Qualcomm-equipped phones will be sold in the U.S. (Verizon and Sprint), China, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands. Meanwhile, Intel-equipped phones will be sold in the U.S. (AT&T and T-Mobile) and most other countries in the world.
Other discoveries made by Chipworks include:
- The A10 Fusion processor in the iPhone 7 was built by TSMC, although the die node technology remains unknown. However, the fact that the A10 processor is incredibly thin, gives credibility to the reports that TSMC’s InFO packaging technique is being used.
- iPhone 7 has 2GB of RAM, specifically Samsung LPDDR4
- The battery is 1960 mAh, 3.8 V and 7.45 watt hours. It’s slightly bigger than the iPhone 6s battery which had 1810 mAh, 6.9 Wh. Apple said the new phones will have two additional hours of battery life. For comparison, the exploding batteries in the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 are 15.4 Wh, twice the size.
- Apple has dual-sourced the memory inside - teardowns have gound SK Hynix 128-GB 15nm part along with Toshiba 128 GB NAND 15nm memory. Rumour has it the 256 GB version of the iPhone 7 will have 3D NAND, but has not yet been confirmed.
- Chipworks reports that they unexpectedly found a third audio amplifier. Chipworks was expecting to find two – one for each of the speakers - but came up with a third. The firm believes that the third amp may be for headphones, which in turn would mean that Apple has significantly revised the Lightning port specification for the iPhone 7.
Regarding the iPhone 7 Plus, iFixit took it apart and confirmed it containes a larger battery than its predecessor, with visual labels on the battery casing revealing a 2,900 mAh capacity. That’s up from 2,750 mAh in the iPhone 6s Plus.
In addition, the dual camera system on the iPhone 7 Plus shows that both the wide angle and telephoto lenses feature independent optical image stabilizers, contrary to earlier rumors.
By removing the headphone jack, Apple saved some space to install an improved Taptic Engine, which now provides feedback to the user via the Home Button.
X-Ray examination of the haptic mechanism showed that it's just a simple device with springs inside, which shake a weight. This controlled oscillation of the springs is designed to create the feeling of pressing a mechanical button.
Other interesting finding for the iPhone 7 Plus include:
- Qualcomm MDM9645M LTE Cat. 12 Modem
- Apple A10 Fusion APL1W24 SoC + Samsung 3 GB LPDDR4 RAM
- Universal Scientific Industrial O1 1R Touchscreen Controller
- Toshiba 128 GB NAND Flash