Shahram Mokhtari, the Lead Teardown Technician at iFixit, shared photos of the iPhone 15 motherboard on Twitter, unveiling an intriguing discovery – the presence of a Qualcomm Snapdragon X70 modem. This is the same 5G modem that can be found in the iPhone 15 Pro.
What adds to the intrigue is the fact that the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus are powered by chipsets from last year’s iPhone 14 Pros, specifically the Apple A16 Bionic. However, in the previous generation, these chipsets were paired with the older X65 modem. In the current iteration, Apple has equipped the vanilla models with the A16 + X70 combination, while the Pros boast the A17 + X70 configuration.
This indicates that Apple’s approach was not merely transplanting a 14 Pro motherboard into an iPhone 15 chassis. There have been significant redesigns and upgrades under the hood. The X70 modem not only offers enhanced power efficiency compared to its predecessor but also incorporates a new AI processor for improved overall performance.
Interestingly, it’s worth noting that in 2020, during the legal battle between Apple and Qualcomm, court documents revealed that the original plan was to use a combination of X65 and X70 modems in the 2022 and 2023 iPhone models. This was intended to mark the transition towards Apple’s in-house modem technology.
However, the in-house modem project encountered several issues, some of which may be of a legal nature. As a result, the plans for the switch were repeatedly delayed. Earlier this year, Apple officially put those plans on hold by extending its Qualcomm partnership through 2026. As a result, the next three generations of iPhones will continue to rely on Snapdragon modems.