Chip maker Broadcom has revealed the industry’s smallest LTE-Advanced modem built for smartphones and tablets today. The chip has been designed for top-tier devices and 4G connectivity, combining a full cellular baseband with a world-band radio that is 35 percent smaller than its competitors.

Broadcom says the new modem, called the BCM21982, can offer LTE category 4 speeds of up to 150Mbps, while operating under any 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) network and doing the usual transitions between 4G LTE, 3G and 2G Internet connectivity.

On the 3GPP side, the BCM21982 handles all the current standards including LTE FDD and TDD, LTE-Advanced with carrier integration, HSPA+, TD-SCDMA, Edge and GSM.

It also offers Voice over LTE (VoLTE), which allows for high-definition calls over a mobile broadband connection. Broadcom says that its VoLTE service uses roughly 40 percent less power than a WCDMA call, which seems impressive on top of what it calls “advanced power management techniques”, which saves a quarter of the charge normally consumed during data transfers.

The bottom line is that this chip is designed to excel in two areas – size and power consumption. Both are particularly important given the struggle that hardware manufacturers go through at the moment to produce smartphones and tablets that are not only slim, but also have an acceptable battery life.

It’s important to note that this is only a modem – so there’s no processor included – although it does work alongside the company’s existing Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 4G LTE offerings. Broadcom is currently trialling the modem with some of its early access customers, but plans to put it into full production in 2014.

Back in January, we reported how Broadcom had struck a deal with Apple to use its 802.11ac chips in this year’s line of Mac products. Often referred to as 5G Wi-Fi, the chips should offer faster throughput, higher capacity, wider coverage and improved power efficiency in Apple’s popular laptops and desktop computers.

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