Apple was said to be moving away from Qualcomm as its supplier for modems for the iPhone, but new reports suggest that Intel and Qualcomm will be sharing the responsibility
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A few months ago, reports had surfaced claiming that Apple was going to turn to Intel for exclusively supplying modem chips for the upcoming iPhone lineup. Now according to a report by 9to5Mac, it would appear that Apple will have to work with Qualcomm for some quantities of the new modem, because Intel faces some “yet unresolved quality issue” as it ramps up production.
The modem chip in question is the XMM750 and is supposed to provide faster LTE speeds, but does not support 5G. Intel expects to roll out their first 5G enabled radio commercially by 2019 anyway. The chip in questions was originally supposed to be sourced wholly from Intel, but reports have gone back and forth between that and a shared output by both Qualcomm and Intel. The modem in question is a significant achievement from Intel as this is their first completely in-house developed and manufactured chip, unlike their previous radios which were manufactured by TSMC.
Apple has been increasingly looking to move away from Qualcomm as its modem supplier given the legal dispute between the two companies. Apple has been withholding royalty payments on licensed patents that it claims are “standards-essential,” for which Qualcomm is charging an exorbitant fee. As the legal dispute wages on, Apple has already started seeking other suppliers for modems.
The iPhone 7 was the first iPhone to feature an Intel modem, but it was quickly discovered that the Intel chips were not as robust when it came to performance as their Qualcomm counterpart. iPhones running the Intel modem had higher call-drops and slightly faster battery drain, and slower LTE speeds. In order to level the playing field, Apple started restricting the maximum speeds Qualcomm chips could achieve, a move that did not go down well with Qualcomm.
Modem chips is not the only area where Apple is struggling with secondary vendors. While Apple sourced their OLED panels for the iPhone X from Samsung, the legal battle between two companies has had Apple reaching out to LG so as to reduce its reliance on its rival, Samsung.
As of now, it would appear that Apple is putting the release of the iPhone this year over its rivalry and legal issues.
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