Intel to supply 4G modems for 2019 iPhone, exited 5G smartphone business because of Apple-...

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In reporting its first quarter financials for 2019, Intel CEO Bob Swan during a conference call on Thursday said the company expects to deliver 4G wireless modems to customers throughout the year, including a next-generation iPhone.

Intel


Reuters reporter Stephen Nellis detailed Swan's comments in a tweet, noting the CEO seemed to imply Intel plans to supply Apple with modems for iPhone models anticipated to launch this fall.

Pundits speculated that Intel would continue to supply modem hardware only for carryover models that use the company's baseband chip, specifically iPhone XR, XS and XS Max, as Apple restarts its partnership with Qualcomm. Swan's comments, however, suggest Intel parts will be integrated into this year's new models.

"Our expectation is we will continue to deliver on the 4G modem throughout the course of this year, including the second iteration of that product coming in the fall back to school season," Swan said, reportedly referring to Apple's smartphone.

Alternatively, Intel could split iPhone modem orders with Qualcomm. The two companies were in similar but opposite positions in 2018 when Apple completely weaned off Qualcomm chips in favor of Intel.

Intel's inclusion in the iPhone supply chain for 2019 means Apple's flagship product will not sport 5G network capabilities.

Apple initially tapped Intel to supply a 5G chip, the XMM 8160, for iPhone and other wireless products by 2020, but Intel reportedly hit a number of roadblocks while developing the speedy network technology. The tech giant is also moving forward with the creation of its own in-house 5G modem solution that could reach consumers by 2021.

The timeline quoted by Swan makes sense for Apple, which earlier this month reached a surprise settlement in a wide-sprawling legal battle with Qualcomm over patent royalties. Apple agreed to pay Qualcomm an undisclosed sum in return for a six-year licensing agreement and multi-year chip supply deal.

When Qualcomm intends to begin supplying modems to Apple is not clear, though it is likely too late to include the chips in a phone slated for release this fall. As such, Intel is well positioned to pick up the slack.

Within hours of the settlement's announcement, Intel said it would exit the 5G smartphone modem business. Swan decided to pull out of contention, and kill the stillborn XMM 8160, after hearing word of Apple's deal with Qualcomm, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,950member
    This is the company founded by the colleagues and  followers of William Shockley, the people who invented the transistor and the integrated circuit. It has always been the leader in the field and it is painful to see it falling behind.
    chiatmaymuthuk_vanalingamGeorgeBMactobian
  • Reply 2 of 9
    Johan42Johan42 Posts: 153member
    lkrupp said:
    This is the company founded by the colleagues and  followers of William Shockley, the people who invented the transistor and the integrated circuit. It has always been the leader in the field and it is painful to see it falling behind.
    Lack of competition is a major contributor for Intel’s setbacks.
    n2itivguy
  • Reply 3 of 9
    The quote from Mr. Swann seems to make it clear, that Intel exited the mobile 5g market after losing it’s one customer.  Considering this, changes the narrative of who blinked first Qualcomm or Apple.  Makes it seem Qualcomm wasn’t the clear winner here.  They certainly had much to lose if the case didn’t go their way (payments plus probably renegotiating nearly every contract they had with their tail between their legs).  Apple’s downside was paying what they always paid for modems and possibly being later to 5g.
  • Reply 4 of 9
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,402member
    5G isn’t happening for much of anyone until late 2020, so it’s unsurprising that the 2019 iPhones have (were always going to have) LTE modems. The 2020 iPhones will probably have to make room for both, since I don’t see LTE going away anytime the next half-decade.

    Three of the four big providers in the US have already said that “5G“ isn’t going to be available outside of high density urban areas, and it’s going to cost more. I suspect non-datahog users will stick with LTE for a while until the more affordable (and slower, but still faster the LTE) versions of 5G come around to more widespread areas in a few years.
  • Reply 5 of 9
    FatmanFatman Posts: 286member
    Fatman’s prediction: Apple will use Intel’s improved 7660 to replace the current 7560 in all new 2019 models. Qualcomm chips will be back for all phones 2020-2021, Apple will then give Qualcomm a single finger salute when it rolls out its own chip for use in 2022 models and beyond.
    n2itivguytobian
  • Reply 6 of 9
    The quote from Mr. Swann seems to make it clear, that Intel exited the mobile 5g market after losing it’s one customer.  Considering this, changes the narrative of who blinked first Qualcomm or Apple.


    It does. While I didn't find/ missed an official statement from Intel or Swan, WSJ says Intel exited after the Apple-Qualcomm deal. That does seem to put Apple in a better position in the settlement.

    Another point made by Ben Bajarin at Techpinions is that so far Apple was an indirect licensee of Qualcomm's patents via other suppliers. With this settlement, Apple is directly licencing Qualcomm's IP, which explains the ~$9 per iPhone fees.

    Overall, I think Apple knew when to push and when to stand down. It's just a matter of time before Apple uses its own modems in the iPhone.

    edited April 26
  • Reply 7 of 9
    I wouldn’t be surprised if we see both Intel and Qualcomm modems in devices at the same time in 2020, as Apple transitions away from Intel.

    But, Qualcomm in 2019 products is unlikely, there’s only a few months to certify their modems.
  • Reply 8 of 9
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,297member
    More than anything this confirms Apple's motivation for caving into Qualcomm:  They needed their 5G modem.

    Although it doesn't say so, I would expect Intel to keep supplying 4G modems for Apple's middle and low-end phones for the foreseeable future while Qualcomm's 5G modem will appear in the high-end devices -- probably, I would think, by Christmas or 1st Quarter at the latest.
  • Reply 9 of 9
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,714member
    lkrupp said:
    This is the company founded by the colleagues and  followers of William Shockley, the people who invented the transistor and the integrated circuit. It has always been the leader in the field and it is painful to see it falling behind.
    The old have to die off to make room for the young.

    The Wintel platform has been dieing becoming more and more  marginal .   It started with mobile and will hopefully get a big kick from Apple A-Series based Macs (It's time for Apple to build their own data centers running on super A-series chips).
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