Reportedly Apple Won’t Use Intel’s 5G Modems in 2020 iPhones
Apple may be moving away from using Intel’s modems in future iPhones, with a new report from Calcalist claiming that the Cupertino company has notified Intel that it will not be using the chipmaker’s 5G modems in its 2020 product lineup (via 9to5Mac.)
As a result, Calcalist’s report also notes that Intel has since stopped development of that 5G modem — code named Sunny Peak — given that Apple was expected to be the “main volume driver” for the modem. Instead, Intel is said to be focusing on improving the planned product to try and woo Apple with a better 5G modem for the company’s 2022 lineup.
In a statement issued to The Verge, an Intel representative commented that “Intel’s 5G customer engagements and roadmap have not changed for 2018 through 2020. We remain committed to our 5G plans and projects,” which doesn’t seem to directly contradict that Apple would be switching modem providers after that point (although it would seem to indicate that development is still in progress.)
The report isn’t entirely out of the blue, either — late last month, Bloomberg reported on a research note from Northland analyst Gus Richard that claimed that Apple would be looking to move away from Intel’s modems for ones made by MediaTek instead. And that’s in addition to the rumors from earlier this year that Apple would be looking to ditch Intel’s chips in its Mac products in 2020 — timing that lines up with the modem report, too.
The news does beg the question of where Apple would be getting its modems if it does drop Intel. A research note from Apple supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo back in February indicated that Apple would be relying far more heavily on Intel’s modems for this year’s iPhones, in an effort to be less reliant on Qualcomm as a primary producer of the chips (the ongoing legal spat between Qualcomm and Apple likely didn’t help matters, either.)
It’s possible that Apple is hoping to patch things up with Qualcomm by 2020, or rely on new providers like MediaTek. But there’s also a chance that the company may choose to take the same direction it took when it started designing its own processors for its mobile devices and develop modems in-house, giving the company even more control over the components that make up an iPhone.
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