A Look at the RF Components Used in Apple’s Latest iPhone 11 and iWatch 5

For the first time ever, Apple, this year announced three new iPhone iterations all at once, along with the new iWatch. The new iPhone 11 Series, according to the company, carries substantial upgrades over the previous versions and enables much higher performance than its counterparts. Thanks to experts at iFixit, we have thus compiled a list of the RF components and technology used in the higher-end iPhone 11 Pro Max as well as the new iWatch 5 to help you get a better idea of the mobile-backend and what makes them ultra-competitive in the market.

The standard specifications of the iPhone 11 Pro Max includes an A13 Bionic SoC with a 3rd Gen Neural Engine, a 6.5” (2688 × 1242) 458 ppi Super Retina XDR OLED display with True Tone and HDR (no 3D Touch), Triple 12 MP rear cameras (ultra-wide, wide, and telephoto), and 12 MP Selfie camera paired with TrueDepth FaceID hardware, Gigabit-class LTE, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC.

The main chip board of the device includes:
  • Apple APL1W85 A13 Bionic SoC layered over SK Hynix H9HKNNNCRMMVDR-NEH LPDDR4X
  • Apple APL1092 343S00355 PMIC
  • Cirrus Logic 338S00509 audio codec
  • Unmarked USI module
  • Avago 8100 Mid/High band PAMiD
  • Skyworks 78221-17 low-band PAMiD
  • STMicrolectronics STB601A0N power management IC
Carrying forward with the RF specs, the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s RF board includes:

Surprisingly, the iPhone 11 Pro Max also carries an unmarked USI module, which the experts believe is hiding Apple’s newest U1 ultra-wideband (UWB) chip. Since the iPhone 11 announcement, there have been rumors that Apple’s new U1 wireless chip is actually a Decawave Ultra Wideband DW1000. But a teardown of both Decawave and Apple’s U1 chip by experts at TechInsights confirmed that Apple developed its own technology. Ultra-wideband, or UWB, is a radio technology like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and is designed to send a lot of data over a very short range using very little power.

According to Decawave experts, Apple designed their own chip set that is 802.15.4z (Enhanced Impulse Radio (EiR)) compliant and will be interoperable with Decawave.

With the addition of the ultra-wideband (UWB) chip, the iPhone 11 Pro Max can now utilize huge 500 MHz-wide channels. It’s a massive jump from the 20 MHz-wide Wi-Fi channels and the 2 MHz Bluetooth channels. This will actually help the iPhone with increased bandwidth, speed, and latency capability. The iPhone 11 also uses the U1 chip for spatial awareness, according to Apple. This allows the device to understand its precise location related to other nearby U1-equipped Apple devices just like GPS acting in a living room. The feature is expected to be immensely helpful while using Apple’s AirDrop capability used for data transferring among Apple devices.

In addition to all these chips, iFixit experts found several layers of graphite thermal transfer material backing the RF board. According to Apple this improved thermal design gives the 11 Pro the best sustained performance ever in an iPhone. It’s accomplished by pulling heat from the logic board straight through several layers of graphite where it dissipates into the rear case. While this may not be as good as the liquid cooling systems seen in some Android phones, but it certainly is enough to keep the A13 cool, while not interfering with any signals traveling to or from the RF board that it clings to.

The other important release, iWatch 5, on the other hand, carries Apple’s new S5 System-in-Package (SiP). The S5 is a complete SiP with the entire system fabricated into a single component. The RF specs of the iWatch 5 include, Skyworks 229-15 465371 1918 MX front-end module, the YY NCJ 7NE (acceleration + gyro sensor) and the API 924 920.

Here are the complete teardowns of the iPhone 11 Pro Max and iWatch 5 by iFixit:

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