Expanded mmWave Support for iPhone 13 5G

Apple’s September 14th event introduced the new iPhone 13 and what caught my attention was a brief mention by Tim Cook of “new bands and antennas” for the iPhone 12 successor. Looking more closely at the specs shows that the iPhone 13 adds support for 26 GHz mmWave (n258), which builds on the 28 GHz and 39 GHz support (n261 and n260, respectively) my iPhone 12 Pro Max has.

I spent a lot of time characterizing mmWave performance during my LMDS days at Wavtrace, and I can tell you that rain and foliage are not kind to the higher frequencies, so the inclusion of 26 GHz in the new phones should make mmWave 5G more likely to work well especially as Seattle turns toward the rainy season.

Ah, Wavtrace. Good times that ultimately weren’t meant to be as LMDS never got a foothold.

I’m going to have to write a post about my experiences in mmWave work there. Will do so soon.

Returning to the Apple event, I was also happy to hear that the 13 would have extended battery life. Always a good thing for wireless/mobile devices 🙂

Net net: Nice to see the band getting use finally.

PunchThrough’s Ultimate Bluetooth Guide for iOS

I just came across this wonderfully detailed guide to iOS CoreBluetooth written by Gretchen Walker of PunchThrough. It goes into the details any iOS developer should try to keep in mind when integrating with Bluetooth devices. It is very much worth bookmarking and referring back to.

I also heartily recommend their wonderful iOS app for debugging your Bluetooth peripherals and the environment they’re operating in. I use it frequently.

iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch Radio Subsystems (Index)

This post serves as a brief summary of the technical specifications of the many radios in the Phone, iPad and the Apple Watch and as index for easier deeper exploration into each. Most of these are very broad categories (for example, there are many types of Bluetooth with differing data rates) and I’ll be linking each of these to more detailed breakdowns. 

Sorted by Range (Shortest to Longest)

NFC (Near Field Communication)

  • Availability: iPhone, Apple Watch
  • Range: 0.1 m
  • Frequency: 13.5 MHz
  • Data Rate: 0.4 Mbps
  • Docs: Core NFC

Bluetooth

UWB (Ultra Wide Band)

  • Availability: iPhone 11 or 12, Apple Watch Series 6
  • Range: 50 m
  • Frequency: 3.1 – 10.6 GHz
  • Data Rate: 100 Mbps
  • Docs: Nearby Interaction

WiFi

  • Availability: iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch
  • Range: 125 m
  • Frequency: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
  • Data Rate: Up to 866 Mbps

Cellular: 5G

  • Availability: iPhone, iPads (if equipped)
  • Range: 300 m
  • Frequency: 30 GHz – 300 GHz
  • Data Rate: 70 – 400 Mbps or faster

Cellular: 4G, LTE

  • Availability: iPhone, iPads (if equipped), Apple Watch (if equipped)
  • Range: 15 km
  • Frequency: 700 MHz, 1700 – 2100 MHz, 1900 MHz, 2500 – 2700 MHz
  • Data Rate: 10 – 50 Mbps or faster

GPS (Global Positioning System)

  • Availability: iPhone, iPad (if equipped) and Apple Watch
  • Range: 20 km
  • Frequency: 1575 MHz, 1227 MHz, 1176 MHz
  • Data Rate: 50 bps
  • Note: GLONASS and Galileo are also supported