updated 07:30 pm EST, Thu February 21, 2013
Could eliminate need to make separate versions of phone models
The long-awaited possibility of a single, unified chipset that would allow a phone to be truly "global" for LTE users and let manufacturers release a single, worldwide version of various phone models may be at hand. Apple's primary LTE and 3G radio chipset provider, Qualcomm, debuted its RF360 Front End Solution line of chips which support all current LTE and 2G/3G bands. In addition to providing universal LTE/3G capability, the new line also improves overall RF performance.
The implications of the chip could bring enormous benefits to both manufacturers and consumers. In particular, handset makers such as Apple could eliminate making at least three different versions of its popular iPhone to support GSM and CDMA networks as it currently does. Other handset makers often do the same, along with separate versions for the Chinese market (which still uses some proprietary LTE technologies not widely used elsewhere).
While manufacturers would save billions in production cost lowering, consumers would gain truly "global" phones that work with any existing system (2G, 3G or LTE) in any country. The lower manufacturing costs might also enable makers to produce less expensive smartphones eventually, along with the added benefits of better resistance to RF interference which could translate into fewer dropped calls and stronger data throughput.
According to the company's announcement, the RF360 includes a Dynamic Antenna Matching Tuner, an Envelope Power Tracker, an Integrated Power Amplifer and Antenna Switch, and an RF POP chip. Qualcomm expects the chips to launch sometime this year, but made no mention of its pricing scheme or volume availability.