The smartphone market consists of multiple categories, each having its own design goals and priorities. To meet these varying requirements, different approaches to RF front-end (RFFE) integration must be utilized. In the white paper, “RF Architecture Choices for Next-Generation Handset Designs,” Qorvo discusses the differing RFFE integration requirements of two major smartphone categories: flagship and mid-tier phones. The white paper provides RFFE architecture examples of both.
Flagship phones and mid-tier (or entry level) handsets are decidedly different in terms of design priorities, price points, and development timelines. Flagship phones are premium designs that are intended for global use. They typically support six modes and more than 15 LTE bands, according to the white paper. Mid-tier handsets are intended for regional usage with some roaming capabilities. The white paper notes that a typical mid-tier phone supports five modes and between five and eight LTE bands.
Flagship phones demand a very high level of RFFE integration. To attract customers, manufacturers must pack high levels of functionality and performance into an extremely slim handset. The RFFE must support a large number of bands to allow for global use. Another requirement involves supporting multiple uplink and downlink carrier aggregation (CA) combinations.
Qorvo’s RF Fusion modules are designed for flagship phones. The RF Fusion portfolio consists of three different modules to cover the low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum regions. An illustration of the RF Fusion architecture is presented in the document.
Regional mid-tier handsets have different RFFE requirements in comparison to global premium handsets. Handset price is critical in this competitive market, meaning manufacturers generally aim to only include the RF components that are needed for each target region or operator. Design flexibility is also important, as handsets must be rapidly adapted for different regions. Qorvo’s RF Flex portfolio of modules is intended for mid-tier smartphone manufacturers. These modules allow manufacturers to minimize handset costs. The white paper provides an illustration of the RF Flex architecture.
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