Qualcomm 8cx benchmarked: Faster than Intel’s i5 8250U?

Qualcomm first announced its 8cx laptop processor back in December of 2018. The chip promised to bring two times the performance of its previous chip, the Snapdragon 850, while at the same time bringing 60 percent better battery life and new features like H.265 and dual 4K monitor support.

Today, we got our first look at PCs running the new Qualcomm 8cx chipset. Qualcomm has partnered with PCMark and 3DMark to produce ARM 64-native benchmarking apps for the platform and pitted the chip against Intel’s most comparable laptop CPU, the i5 8250U.

Read more:

As a recap, the Qualcomm 8cx is a 7nm chip with a TDP of 7 watts, while Intel’s i5 8250U is based on a 10nm process and has a TDP of 15 watts. Based on these specs alone, it’s no surprise that Qualcomm is achieving about two times better battery life. The real surprise here is application benchmarks and graphics performance.

Qualcomm 8cx - Application Benchmark test

In a standard application benchmark test, the 8cx was neck-and-neck with Intel’s offering. The 8cx beat the i5 8250U in some tests and fell slightly behind in others. This is fairly massive because it shows that a chip with half the power consumption of an Intel CPU can deliver just as good day-to-day performance.

In graphics benchmarks, Qualcomm’s 8cx beat Intel by a good amount. The graphics score in 3DMark’s Night Raid was between 6138 and 6266, while Intel measured between 5172 and 5174. Take this with a grain of salt though, because the display on Intel’s model was a 2k panel, while Qualcomm used an FHD panel.

Qualcomm 8cx - Graphics test

The benchmarking session showed just how competitive Qualcomm has gotten already. Its Always Connected PCs (ACPCs) allow users to pull down data extremely quickly wherever they are, especially with the new 5G modem Qualcomm is offering to laptop OEMs. With graphics performance on par with Intel’s equivalent offerings, it shouldn’t be long before these laptops start flying off store shelves.

Qualcomm 8cx PC - Lenovo Project Infinite head on
Qualcomm 8cx PC - Lenovo Project Infinite top down on keyboard
Qualcomm 8cx PC - Lenovo Project Infinite Lenovo logo

Alongside the benchmarking session, Qualcomm announced a partnership with Lenovo for the development of the first 5G Always Connected PC. Lenovo is calling this laptop Project Limitless for now, but we didn’t get much more detail than that. Qualcomm told us that this laptop will be running on a 45 watt-hour battery and will use the Qualcomm 8cx SoC and 5G modem, but until we hear more details that’s all we have to go on.

Another interesting thing to note is the total lack of 5G modem competition. With Intel pulling out of the market completely and Huawei currently in disarray, it’s likely that Qualcomm will own this market for a good while.

What do you think about 5G Always Connected PCs? Are you looking to pick one up once they start shipping next year? Let us know in the comments section below.

Intel, Qualcomm join Google in cutting off business with Huawei

The Huawei logo.

  • Intel, Qualcomm, Broadcom, and Xilinx have reportedly moved to stop supplying Huawei.
  • The news comes after the U.S. government instituted a trade ban on the Chinese brand.
  • Google has also suspended business with Huawei in the wake of the ban.

Huawei‘s trade ban by the U.S. government has already resulted in Google cutting off the Chinese manufacturer. Now, several tech giants have joined the search company in following the government ban.

Intel, Qualcomm, Broadcom, and Xilinx have all told employees that they won’t supply Huawei, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the actions.

Read: Huawei would sign ‘we promise not to spy’ agreements with governments

Intel and Qualcomm are perhaps the two most prominent companies taking action here. Intel supplies processors for the Chinese brand’s laptops and servers, while Qualcomm supplies chipsets and modems for its budget phones.

The news comes a short while after Reuters reported that Google has suspended business with Huawei. This means the Chinese brand loses access to Android updates as well as Google services, according to the newswire.

Google has since issued a statement via its Android Twitter account, saying that current Huawei devices will still receive access to services like Google Play and Google Play Protect.

Editor’s Pick

Huawei’s barrage of bad news comes after President Donald Trump signed an executive order effectively banning telecoms equipment from foreign firms deemed a security risk. Shortly after the order was signed, the U.S. Commerce Department added Huawei to its Entity List. The listing means U.S. companies had to seek prior approval from the government in order to have business dealings with the manufacturer.

We’ve contacted Intel and Qualcomm to confirm Bloomberg‘s article, and will update the article accordingly. What do you think of the situation? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.

NEXT: Best prepaid phones (May 2019)

What does the Apple H1 chip mean for audio? Do Android users have an alternative?

New AirPods 2 on comic book.

The market for true wireless earbuds is gradually picking up steam and figuring out which one to buy is becoming a bigger challenge. Apple’s AirPods stand out from the crowd, not always for the best reasons, but the company excels at branding, as we know. So much so that fans will happily talk about Apple processor capabilities, including the little chips tucked into its headphones, such as the Apple W1 and newer H1 model.

The Apple H1 chip is found inside the second generation Apple AirPods, touting a range of improvements in the ever-growing true wireless headphone market. While you might not want to buy into the Apple ecosystem and question their bang for buck, the convenience of Apple’s pairing system is hard to ignore.

Are Beats headphones worth it?

What does the Apple H1 do?

Let’s back up a second and consider what exactly the Apple H1 chip does. It’s not a processor in the smartphone or PC sense, it’s not running a complex operating system or powering a display. No, the H1 is a streamlined chip designed for just a few tasks. Apple keeps the innards of its chip a secret, but we do know that it includes a modem for handling Bluetooth connectivity, a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) for decoding the compressed audio stream, and a co-processor (possibly a second DSP) for handling sensor information.

A highly optimized processor can make significant battery savings over a more generic design. As a result, the Apple H1 boasts some battery life improvements over the W1. Talk time reaches up to 3 hours rather than just 2, and up to 5 hours of audio playback. There’s new support for voice-activated Siri commands (in addition to a double-tap), and Bluetooth 5.0 support, up from 4.2. Bluetooth 5.0 support isn’t meaningful for headphones quality, as audio codec profiles still utilize lower transfer rates. Although Bluetooth 5.0 does allow for audio streaming to multiple devices at once. Bluetooth 5 is primarily aimed at lower power consumption, and could be more important should the chip end up in other wireless devices.

Editor’s Pick

On the plus side, latency is 30 percent lower between the H1 and W1. This is good news for mobile gamers. Apple also promises that connection times when switching devices is now twice as fast. So you can hop between your Apple Watch or iPad faster than ever before. The chip’s sensor support also means that it can detect which AirPod is in your ear, so it only uses the microphone you’re actually wearing when making calls.

That’s all very smart, but the Apple H1 doesn’t support everything that serious audio users may desire. AAC is the only audio codec on board. There’s no third-party proprietary aptX or LDAC, which offer superior quality on Android handsets. So that’s a big “no” to higher resolution audio and minimal compression. There’s also no active noise cancellation (ANC) support that we know of, meaning poor isolation from outside noises. If you’re after these features, you’ll want to look at other chips and headsets.

Some of the H1’s best features, such as a strong connection and fast pairing, aren’t available to Android users.

new AirPods (2019) and Samsung Galaxy Buds adjacent to one another on a table.

Alternative chips and products

If you’re keen to steer clear of the Apple ecosystem or fancy some different headphones, there are plenty of decent AirPods 2019 alternatives out there. Many also feature chips that offer similar or even superior levels of technology. The Apple H1 is certainly not the only game in town.

Broadcom BCM43014

Broadcom is a big name in the wireless communications business and has its own range of true wireless audio chips. The BCM43014 powers the Samsung Galaxy Buds, which were announced alongside the Samsung Galaxy S10 series this year.

The BCM43014 is also a Bluetooth 5 chip, for what that’s worth, complete with an audio DSP and sensor hub technology for touch, IR, and proximity sensors. The chip supports fast scan and connection options to improve pairing speed. There’s no ANC with the Galaxy Buds, but the BCM43014 mentions the integration of advanced acoustic algorithms that reduce background noise, which could be available to other units.

Editor’s Pick

The Galaxy Buds support SBC, AAC, and Samsung’s in-house Scalable Audio & Speech Codec. The programmable nature of the microcontroller CPU suggests that other codecs could be implemented on this hardware, but it’s not clear if there are other requirements here and implementation would be product-dependent.

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds certainly fit the bill as an AirPod 2019 competitor. There are many design and feature similarities between the two, although Samsung is lacking the always-on voice commands. The BCM43014 is a little more general purpose than Apple’s H1, but it’s comparable with what Apple is doing in terms of quality and features.

Qualcomm QCC and CSR series

Qualcomm is the big name in Android smartphone chips and has its own range of wireless audio SoCs too. In this observer’s option, this is where to look for some of the industry’s most cutting-edge audio features. The list includes high-quality codec support in the form of aptX and optional LDAC, feedforward and feedback Hybrid ANC, and ultra-low power consumption.

Much of Qualcomm’s audio efforts are spun out of its acquisition of aptX from CSR back in 2010, before buying the entire company in 2015. Qualcomm sells a wide range of audio chips under the CSR naming scheme, which you’ll find inside Bluetooth headphones, speakers, and dongles. Features include AAC, aptX, and LDAC codec support, noise cancellation, and voice detection.

Editor’s Pick

The latest audio chip models in the lineup fall under the QCC branding. The QCC5100 is the flagship tier, offering aptX, HD, and low latency Adaptive codec support, along with Hybrid ANC, True Wireless Stereo Plus capabilities, and voice-activated Assistant controls. The dual-core DSP can be used for audio and sensor applications. This range is also incorporated into the Qualcomm eXtension program, which helps developers implement optional third-party audio technologies, from custom tuning algorithms to Sony’s LDAC codec. In terms of audio quality, low latency potential, and features, the QCC5100 goes well beyond the Apple H1.

The QCC300X series is the more affordable option. This series does away with noise canceling, only works with aptX classic, and isn’t in the eXtension program. Likewise, voice controls are out, and there’s just a single-core DSP unit which limits the processing available for sensors.

Unfortunately, Qualcomm’s QCC range of products has not appeared in many true wireless headphones to date. According to sources who have spoken with us, Qualcomm’s technology is more expensive than its rivals and some potential partners aren’t aware of its true wireless product portfolio. Bad news for those hoping that Qualcomm could haul the Android Bluetooth ecosystem out of its messy position.

Android’s Bluetooth latency needs a major overhaul for real-time content

Other mentions

For earbud manufacturers, there is a range of other options on the market too. Microchip, Nordic Semiconductor, RealTek, MediaTek, and others offer SoCs for wireless audio products. However, many are not as optimized for earbuds like the H1.

Most of these products, including the MediaTek MT2533 and Microchip IS2064, support SBC and AAC by default, but not more advanced codecs. LDAC is an option in some specific products, such as the IS2064GM-0L3. A few SoCs also include echo and noise suppression technologies, Bluetooth 5 for lower power consumption, and support for true wireless earbuds as well. However, this varies a lot between SoCs and few are offering quite the comprehensive level of features as Apple and Qualcomm.

The Under Armour True Flash by JBL true wireless workout earbuds on a black surface with a grip strength trainer in the top left corner.

There’s a diverse ecosystem of chips out there

Bluetooth audio SoCs are seldom talked about, partly because headphone product actually ends up determining which features are implemented anyway. The Apple H1 is designed with Apple’s specific vision of Bluetooth earbuds in mind. That’s great in some ways, as it has produced a power-efficient design with a pretty comprehensive list of features. However, the best features are reserved for those who buy into Apple’s broader product ecosystem and it doesn’t support everything that high-end audio consumers may want.

Outside of Apple’s ecosystem, there is a huge range of available products, each sporting different capabilities and price point targets. In terms of packing in everything consumers may want, such as noise cancellation, voice commands, and high-quality codecs, Qualcomm has a very competitive range of products. Although the company perhaps can’t compete on price as well as Apple can with its in-house design team, which appears to be hampering adoption.

The bottom line is that there are definitely competitive SoCs to the Apple H1 out there for Android users. However, very few companies talk about the chip powering their headphones, instead preferring to focus on the end-user features.

NEXT: Android’s Bluetooth latency needs a major overhaul

Qualcomm says smart speakers to get smarter and sound better

Qualcomm’s vision for the future of smart speakers is one that’s dramatically better than what we have today. The company announced two new components that will improve the experience all around.

A dedicated system-on-a-chip, called the QCS400, aims to boost the IQ of sound bars, as well as in-home and portable smart speakers. Moreover, a refreshed power amplifier, called the CSRA6640, will bring better sound to lower-cost devices.

Smarter smart speakers

If you have a speaker powered by Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, you already know that the experience can be frustrating. Sometimes the speaker doesn’t hear you, or mishears you, or makes you wait a second or two before it comes to life and responds. Whether given its smarts by Alexa or Assistant, the answers we receive run the gamut from straight on to off the rails.

The smart speakers on sale today are powered by a variety of parts-bin components. Qualcomm says it has (so far) gotten away with shoehorning its mobile SoCs into smart devices. Now that smart speakers are on track to be in 220 million homes by 2020 to 2021, Qualcomm knew it needed to up its game.

Hence the QCS400.

This series of chips is the first from Qualcomm that are dedicated to the smart home and smart speaker segments. They were engineered from the ground up with modern voice controls, connectivity, power needs, and quality in mind. The QSC400 was developed to provide a more robust voice user interface at low power while delivering a seamless experience.

The QSC400 modules read like something directly from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon lineup. Each has a quad-core power processor, the Hexagon DSP for audio interfaces, an Adreno GPU (for smart displays), 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, and on-device security for keeping a lid on personal data.

One core aspect Qualcomm focused on was improving voice response time. Devices based on the QSC400 should respond to user requests faster. Keyword recognition is stronger. The QSC400’s DSP and audio interfaces give it more control over far-field microphones for recognizing those keywords. Interestingly, Qualcomm pitched the idea of allowing device builders to use their own brand name as the keyword, such as Bose or Sonos.

A seamless experience — particularly when streaming media — is highly reliant on connectivity. The QSC400 has advanced connectivity options, such as beamforming, to handle single- and multi-room streaming with little to no latency.

Qualcomm claims the QCS400 family improves standby battery life by a factor of 25 with active voice listening enabled. This is good news for portable smart speakers, which will chew through less power as they sit idly awaiting your command.

Let’s not forget audio quality. The chip supports Dolby, DTS X, and aptX Adaptive for the best in sound processing.

The QSC400 family comprises four distinct SoCs. The 403 is for home hubs, voice assistants, and entry-level sound bars; the 404 is for smart speakers, sound bars, and audio-capable mesh routers; the 405 is for premium smart speakers, smart sound bars, and display-capable home hubs; and the 407 is for premium smart sound bars and AVRs. 

In the demos I saw at Qualcomm’s campus in San Diego, the QSC400 showed quick response times to voice commands and powered decent-sounding smart reference speakers. It will be up to device makers to really put the QSC400 to work.

Louder smart speakers

What good are smarts if you can’t put them to effective use?

The number one request made by owners of smart speakers is for the device to play music. Many existing smart speakers deliver a less-than-stellar audio experience. This is partly due to the fact that consumers will buy a device that is smart more so than a device that sounds good. Too many people settle for the mediocre experience provided by devices that are in their price range.

Qualcomm believes its new power amplifier will help devices in the $70 to $100 range sound better are much louder volumes.

Alongside the QSC400, Qualcomm today also announced the Qualcomm DDFA (Direct Digital Feedback Amplifier) CSRA6640. This really-badly-named part can provide up to 40 watts of power through a single channel or 20 watts through two speakers. The 6640 can be daisy-chained together for devices that require multiple input/output options.

There are two key innovations in this power amplifier. First, Qualcomm has reduced the number of needed components by about 50 percent. This won’t necessarily mean a bill-of-materials reduction of the same amount, but it will lead to savings on parts. Second, because it halved the number of components, the 6640 is much smaller than the previous generation power amplifier. Vitally, the 6640 does not require a heat sink. This gives device makers far more freedom to incorporate the amplifier into their devices.

Qualcomm also claims the 6640 has lower THD thanks to a double feedback loop. This means speakers powered by the 6640 will sound better at a higher volume, and drop buzzing during silent or low-volume operation to practically zero.

Competition for smart speakers is fierce and, according to Qualcomm, dependent for many on price. The 6640 should make it possible for device makers to differentiate by offering a better experience at a more affordable price point.

Qualcomm demonstrated this by pushing a Dolby movie clip through a sound bar with the two components working together. The sound bar was able to fill the room with an incredible amount of detailed sound, with all the bombastic boom you expect from your home theater.

Bottom line

Smart speakers that sound good and are portable are few and far between. Combining the QSC400 and 6640 in a single device should help bridge the gap.

Qualcomm says it is already working with partners to bring such smart, portable speakers to market starting in the third quarter of the year. Not only will these devices be compact and produce loud, high-quality sound, they’ll be far more responsive to voice input all while consuming less power.

This may sound like a dream, but it’s not too far out of reach.

 

 

Ultrasonic fingerprint scanners: how do they work?

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Fingerprint reader

After a few years lurking in backroom prototypes and inside a few quickly forgotten handsets, ultrasonic fingerprint sensors are ready for prime time. The technology is built into Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10 Plus, making the technology almost guaranteed to be securing millions of thumbprints by the year’s end.

In December 2018, Qualcomm announced its 3D ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor. This technology is enabled in devices using the company’s Snapdragon 855 platform as an option if the manufacturer wants to include the extra hardware. Ultrasonic fingerprint technology has its own pros and cons versus traditional capacitive scanners and even other in-display fingerprint designs. Here’s everything you need to know.

How ultrasonic fingerprint scanners work

Qualcomm’s 3D in-display ultrasonic fingerprint scanner is based on what used to be called Sense ID. Rather than existing photographic or capacitive-based fingerprint scanners, ultrasonic fingerprint scanners make use of very high-frequency ultrasonic sound. You can’t hear it, but these waves are used to map out the details of the user’s fingerprint. Fortunately, there’s no need to swipe, just touch the finger to the sensor like the top of the line capacitive fingerprint scanners.

Editor’s Pick

To actually capture the details of a fingerprint, the hardware consists of both a transmitter and a receiver. An ultrasonic pulse is transmitted against the finger that is placed over the scanner. Some of this pulse’s pressure is absorbed and some of it is bounced back to the sensor, depending upon the ridges, pores and other details that are unique to each fingerprint.

There isn’t a microphone listening out for these returning signals. Instead, a sensor that can detect mechanical stress is used to calculate the intensity of the returning ultrasonic pulse at different points on the scanner. Scanning for longer periods of time allows for additional depth data to be captured, resulting in a highly detailed 3D reproduction of the scanned fingerprint.

Qualcomm notes that there’s about a 250-millisecond latency for unlocking, roughly equivalent to capacitive fingerprint scanners. The sensor has about a 1 percent error rate, which again is pretty comparable to other scanners.

Pros of ultrasonic fingerprint vs capacitive scanners

Ultrasonic fingerprint technology works very differently to capacitive fingerprint scanners, which are only able to reproduce 2D images. 3D details are much more difficult to forge or fool than a 2D image, making the ultrasonic system much more secure. It goes without saying that ultrasound is also much more secure than optical fingerprint scanners, which have all but fallen out of favor.

In-display scanners like those inside the OnePlus 6T and Huawei Mate 20 Pro are optical not ultrasonic.

Another added perk of this ultrasonic fingerprint scanner technology is that it allows the fingerprint scanner to still operate through thin materials, such as glass, aluminum, or plastic. The sensor is just 0.15 millimeters thick and can scan through up to 800 µm of glass and up to 650 µm of aluminum. Therefore, the scanner can be embedded under the case or under the display as we’re seeing in the Samsung Galaxy S10, allowing for a more discrete look and thinner bezels.

Because the sensor uses ultrasonic waves, the sensor can also double up as a health tracker that can record heart rate and blood flow. Additionally, there’s less chance of damaging the sensor or exposing it to external tampering, and sweat or moisture on the finger won’t interfere with the scanning process either.

Scanning is just half the process

Editor’s Pick

Of course, there’s still plenty to be done with this fingerprint data and keeping it secure is an equally important part of the system.

As will all biometric security systems, processing and security highly sensitive personal information security are key. Qualcomm’s processors are built with dedicated security tools, including Cryptographic Accelerators, Key Provisioning Security, and a Trusted Execution Environment. This ensures that the processing and storage of sensitive data are kept well away from malicious applications. Other Arm-based processors offer TrustZone hardware isolation for similar levels of protection.

Qualcomm’s setup is also designed to support the Fast Identity Online (FIDO) Alliance protocols, which can be used for online password-less authentication. FIDO does this without transferring any of the confidential fingerprint information to the cloud or through networks that could be compromised.


Ultrasonic fingerprint scanners certainly have a number of advantages of existing capacitive implementations and given the prevalence of Qualcomm processors in mobile products. 3D ultrasonic fingerprint scanners are now ready for prime time and it’s possible that we’ll see many more manufacturers adopt this technology throughout 2019.

Apple might make its own modems, cutting reliance on Intel (and Qualcomm)

  • Apple could be making big moves to start creating its own mobile modems.
  • If true, this would mean the company is looking to end its reliance on Intel.
  • Apple creating its own modems will cost the company a lot up front, but likely save it money overall.

A new report from Reuters suggests that Apple might be making serious moves to develop its own in-house smartphone modems. If this is true, it would be bad news for Intel, which currently makes iPhone modems.

The sources of the report are two anonymous people familiar with the inner workings of Apple.

According to the sources, Apple has shifted engineering staff who currently work on modem technology in the supply chain division to the in-house hardware technology division. While this isn’t the largest of changes, it does represent that Apple is being proactive about creating its own modems.

Additionally, Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technologies, took over the company’s modem design efforts in January. This wasn’t previously reported.

The modem is one of the most important parts of the inner workings of a smartphone, as it establishes connections with wireless network towers. For years, Apple used Qualcomm modems in the iPhone but then shifted to using Intel modems when Apple’s relationship with Qualcomm started to sour.

Editor’s Pick

Apple already creates its own processor chipsets for the iPhone and iPad, so creating its own modems makes perfect sense.

However, this would be bad news for Intel. Rumor has it that when Apple shifted to using Intel modems it was dissatisfied with the company’s output. There are even allegations that Apple stole technology secrets from Qualcomm in order to help get Intel closer to being a real competitor.

If Apple is serious about making its own modems, that would mean that Intel still isn’t measuring up. It would also mean a large financial loss for the company when Apple stops buying its chips.

It’s likely that Apple would have to invest millions into the research and development of these modems. However, that upfront cost would likely pay off in the long run, as developing modems in-house would eventually save the company money. It would also save space inside the iPhone as Apple would likely combine the modem with its own chipset, which is how most Android devices work.

Apple’s most current mobile chipset — the A12 Bionic — was the first to market featuring 7nm technology and handily beats most other mobile chipsets in multiple tests. If Apple can achieve such heights with modems, it could give the iPhone a big edge over many Android devices.

NEXT: Apple’s next iPhones tipped to embrace triple cameras, 3D sensors

Apple wanted Qualcomm chips in iPhone XS/XR, but Qualcomm refused

iPhone XS Max in man's hand against a white backdrop.

  • An antitrust trial against Qualcomm is happening now in California.
  • During the trial, Apple’s COO claimed that Qualcomm refused to supply modem chips for the latest round of iPhones.
  • Qualcomm’s CEO also claims that it paid $1 billion to Apple to be the sole modem supplier for iPhones.

An antitrust trial between the United States Federal Trade Commission and chipset manufacturer Qualcomm is currently in session in San Jose, California. During the proceedings, Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams took the stand and dished out some notable information regarding the company’s strained relationship with Qualcomm.

According to a tweet from reporter Shara Tibken, Williams testified that Apple sought the use of Qualcomm chips (specifically modems) for use in the Apple iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR. However, Qualcomm refused the request due to the ongoing legal troubles between the two companies.

The tweet is below:

If this is true, Qualcomm likely pushed away billions of dollars with the loss of this potential sale of its modems to Apple, one of the world’s largest producers of smartphones.

However, Qualcomm likely made the decision based on the allegations that Apple doesn’t keep up with its licensing payments to Qualcomm. Recently, iPhones have had to be pulled from store shelves in various countries due to the ongoing legal fights between the two companies, as Qualcomm attempts to force Apple to pay back payments on those fees.

Editor’s Pick

Apple ended up using Intel modems instead for its latest batch of iPhones.

During the same FTC trial, according to Reuters, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf stated that his company paid Apple $1 billion to become the sole supplier of modem chips for Apple. This 2011 deal is part of the reason Qualcomm is fighting Apple so hard on getting licensing fee payments. Under the deal, Qualcomm fronted $1 billion in cash to Apple and gave the company a per-unit discount. In return, Apple gave Qualcomm exclusive rights to supplying iPhone modems.

The FTC, however, is arguing that Qualcomm engages in anti-competitive behavior to keep other chipmakers from supplying to Apple. Qualcomm denies this.

The trial is expected to end sometime this week, although it could go for much longer.

NEXT: Apple pulls iPhone 7 and 8 models from stores in Germany, thanks to Qualcomm

Apple pulls iPhone 7 and 8 from store shelves in Germany, thanks to Qualcomm

A photograph of the iPhone 8 Plus.

  • The iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8, and 8 Plus are no longer for sale in Germany.
  • The devices have been pulled from Apple.com as well as the 15 official Apple stores in Germany.
  • The sales ban is in response to legal troubles the company faces with chipset-maker Qualcomm.

Towards the end of December, a German court determined that Apple infringed on chipset-maker Qualcomm’s intellectual property for power savings in smartphones. In response to this, the District Court of Munich ordered Apple to pull iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models from its store shelves in Germany.

Today, Apple did just that. As of now, the iPhone 7 and 8, as well as the iPhone 7 Plus and 8 Plus, are no longer for sale at official Apple storefronts, including the German version of Apple.com. Apple has 15 physical stores in Germany, all of which no longer sell the allegedly infringing devices.

Here is an image of how Apple’s German site looked before and after the ban, via MacRumors:

The ban also forces Apple to pull the infringing iPhone models from third-party German stores. However, this is a huge undertaking and, as one would expect, the iPhone models in question are still available at plenty of German retailers both online and physical.

In order to ensure the ban took place, Qualcomm had to pony up 1.34 billion euros (~$1.5 billion) worth of security bonds. This huge backing of cash proves Qualcomm is serious about fighting hard to win this case against Apple. The money is being kept aside in case Apple’s appeal of the verdict ends up in its favor.

Editor’s Pick

Apple and Qualcomm are engaged in tough legal battles throughout the world. Although each one is a little different, they all are based on the idea that Apple is using various Qualcomm patents in iPhones and not paying Qualcomm the proper licensing fees. Apple accuses Qualcomm of abusing the patent system, while Qualcomm accuses Apple of taking advantage of its property rights.

Recently, Qualcomm earned a big win in China against Apple, and this German case looks to be going well for the chipset-maker, too. However, similar cases in the United States — the home turf of both companies — ended in Apple’s favor, and Qualcomm has been accused of playing dirty in some of the cases.

Apple also recently became mired in controversy after CEO Tim Cook published a letter to investors revealing iPhone sales are not as good as originally anticipated. You can read more about that — and how it affects the smartphone industry at large — by clicking the link below.

NEXT: Yes, Apple, the slowing smartphone market affects you, too

Apple will update China iPhones to prevent ban, but Qualcomm still fighting

  • Apple will send software updates to several iPhone models in China to remove features disputed by Qualcomm as illegal. This will, hopefully, avoid a Chinese iPhone sales ban.
  • However, Qualcomm is at the same time fighting for the potential sales ban to cover even more iPhone models.
  • Apple admitted that if it cannot avoid the Chinese sales ban, it will be forced to settle with Qualcomm.

Earlier this week, a Chinese court issued a set of preliminary injunctions in the patent fight between Apple and Qualcomm. The injunctions — which heavily favor Qualcomm — essentially put a Chinese sales ban into effect for the Apple iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X.

Apple revealed today, via Reuters, that it will push a software update to the Chinese iPhones in question next week. This software update will change and/or remove the disputed Qualcomm technology, which Apple hopes will allow the company to avoid the sales ban.

“Early next week we will deliver a software update for iPhone users in China addressing the minor functionality of the two patents at issue in the case,” Apple said. “Based on the iPhone models we offer today in China, we believe we are in compliance.”

Editor’s Pick

Originally, Apple claimed the sales ban was irrelevant because the iPhone models in question all run iOS 12, which the company argues fixes the issues revolving around the case. However, Apple must have changed its mind, as now it is pushing an update.

Ultimately, it will be up to the Chinese courts to decide if this future software update will be enough to avoid the sales ban.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm is pushing even harder on Apple, apparently emblazoned by the preliminary injunctions win this week. According to The Financial Times (via Engadget), Qualcomm is now pushing for the sales ban to also include the Apple iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR.

Should the Chinese courts deem the software update to not be enough to avoid the ban, Apple concedes it would have no other option but to settle with Qualcomm. If this comes to pass, it would be an enormous win for Qualcomm in its years-long fight with Apple over alleged patent licensing infringement.

However, Apple does not mince words when describing how destructive an Apple sales ban in China would be. Apple had this to say in a December 10 filing, via The South China Morning Post:

“Apple will be forced to settle with the Respondent, causing all mobile phone manufacturers to relapse into the previous unreasonable charging mode and pay high licensing fees, resulting in unrecoverable losses in the downstream market of mobile phones. Apple, many other companies, and consumers … will suffer truly irreparable harm, [and the Chinese government] may suffer hundreds of thousands of tax losses.”

We can only assume that next week we will learn whether the Chinese courts will grant Apple some leniency in this case.

NEXT: Apple tipped to be working on own modem for iPhones, but don’t expect it soon