Building a LoRaWAN Product? SoC LoRa Module or LoRa Modem? Which should you choose? There exists some confusion, mainly due to poor naming on online component shops. Some call the modem the "module".
Comparing these 2 different products is like comparing a Walkie Talkie to a Smartphone. A smartphone can do way more things than just communicate.
In the below image we have a NLN500a LoRa Dev board & a Semtech's SX1278 LoRa Transceiver.
What is a LoRa SoC Module? - In short, it has an MCU & LoRa Radio Integrated in one package, often comes with Wireless Certifications so that you can just plug and play.
What is a LoRa Modem? - A LoRa Modem is a component containing all the radio-related components: Stack + RF Circuitry
Why choose NebuLink NLN500a SoC Module?
The NebuLink Node NLN500a Development board incorporates World's 1st LoRa Integrated Microcontroller - STM32WL. Unlike SX1278 LoRa Transceiver, the NLN500a comes with very easy to integrate SDK & support. Easy Sensor Interface, Super easy debugging & out of the box Arduino Support for fast prototyping. With all these added conveniences & with the presence of STM32 MCU, obviously the cost of the LoRa SoC Module will be more than the Modem.
If I was building a new LoRaWAN product from scratch I would go with NebuLink Node NLN500a Development/LoRa SoC Module, as It would enable me to rapidly do LoRaWAN POC Development & reach faster to market.
Why choose Semtech's SX1278 LoRa Modem?
If your application is simple in nature, or if you want to upgrade an existing line of products to enable LoRaWAN capability, then the modem may be considered. This is in those situations where you don't want to disturb what is already working, and just want to add LoRaWAN Capability. But this will not be future proof. In the next version of your product you should highly consider switching to the LoRa SoC Module