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RF Devices And Technology

Apple iPhone 12 series mmWave 5G Chipset and Antenna

Product code
EUR 6990
Mobile & Consumer
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A study of the complete first generation of the 5G millimeter-wave chipset for Apple’s phones including custom antenna, front-end module and antenna-on-package.

Apple iPhone 12 Series 5G Chipset - 1 - Board and Antenna - System Plus Consulting

With a projected Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 72 % in shipped units between 2020 and 2025, the 5G market is expected to be profitable in the next few years. In this context, following competitors like Samsung, Apple has also started to gamble on mmWave 5G communication. In its latest generation of iPhone, the twelfth, the company decided to implement a 5G mmWave chipset for US-only models. For this to happen, Apple and Qualcomm made an arrangement despite their previous lawsuit.

Since 2016 no iPhone generation has featured Qualcomm’s components. But this year, Apple has allowed the company to supply 5G components to enable mmWave communication in US versions of the iPhone Mini, Standard, Pro and Pro Max. All the series features custom designs for the first time. The chipset in the iPhone 12 series comes with six sub systems spread throughout the smartphone. The two first Systems-in-Packages (SiPs) in the chain are the baseband processor X55M and the modulator Intermediate Frequency (IF) circuit, SMR526. Both came from Qualcomm. The other devices are a Front-End Module (FEM) specially designed to work with a rear and a front facing passive antenna system and an Antenna-on-Package (AoP) at the side.

In this chipset, Qualcomm still supplies the transceiver and the Power Management Integrated Circuit (PMIC) included in the FEM and the AoP. But Apple has totally rethought the architecture with arrangements like in-house antenna designs, custom Printed Circuit Board (PCB) substrates for the AoP, and separated FEM and antenna systems. All of this enables 5G communication like every other smartphone but Apple could integrate more functions with its system, such as human body detection or Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication.

This report includes a full investigation of the system, featuring a detailed study of the SiPs, including die analyses, processes and board cross-sections. It contains a complete cost analysis and a selling price estimation of the system. Finally, it features a light technical comparison with the latest 5G mmWave AoP and a cost comparison with the second generation of 5G mmWave chipset from Qualcomm.

Apple iPhone 12 Series 5G Chipset - 4 PMIC cross-Section- System Plus Consulting Apple iPhone 12 Series 5G Chipset - 3 - Board CT Scan - System Plus Consulting Apple iPhone 12 Series 5G Chipset - 2 - AiP Cross-Section - System plus Consulting
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Company Profile and 5G Technology

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Teardown

Market Analysis

Physical Analysis

  • Physical analysis methodology
  • Main board
    • Board view:

Dimensions, Marking, CT Scan, Routing Study, 5G Chipset Bloc Diagram

  • Digital and IF Component Analysis
    • Baseband processor and Rx/Tx package analysis
      • Package view and dimensions
      • Package opening and bill of material
      • Package cross-section: PCB, dimensions
      • Package process analysis
  • mmWave Component Analysis
    • Antenna-on-package (AoP) SiP and Front-end Module (FEM)
      • Package view and dimensions
      • Package X-Ray: overall view, PCB routing, antenna structure, cross-sections
      • Package opening and bill of material
      • Package cross-section: PCB, dimensions
      • Package process analysis
  • Die Analysis: Baseband processor, Rx/Tx, transceiver, PMIC
    • Die view and dimensions
    • Die delayering and main block IDs
    • Die cross-section
    • Die process
  • Physical analysis comparison
    • Qualcomm’s second generation of 5G mmWave Chipset

Manufacturing Process Flow

  • Die fabrication unit: Baseband processor, Rx/Tx, transceiver, PMIC
  • SiP packaging fabrication unit
  • PCB fabrication process flow
  • AoP packaging process flow

Cost Analysis

  • Overview of the cost analysis
  • Supply chain description
  • Yield hypotheses
  • Die cost analyses: Baseband processor, Rx/Tx, yransceiver, PMIC
    • Front-end cost
    • Wafer and die costs
  • Baseband, Rx/Tx and antenna package cost analysis
    • Packaging assembly cost
    • Packaging cost by process step
  • Final test cost
  • Final assembly
  • Component cost
  • Cost analysis comparison with QTM525
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