New iPhone speeds may be affected by latest Apple Qualcomm spat

After an ongoing legal spat between Apple and Qualcomm, it looks as though the Cupertino-based tech giant will cease to use the chipmaker's modems, instead opting for a slower alternative from major rival Intel.

Qualcomm has risen to become the principal architect and purveyor of smartphone silicon, dominating the Android (and Windows Phone) landscape with its successful line of Snapdragon chipsets.

Whilst Apple has been placing its own processors into its smartphones since 2011, it still relies on Qualcomm’s modem technology to bestow iPhones and other Apple-branded LTE-capable devices with the 4G speeds that their users have become accustomed to.

Like a number of other companies in the smartphone space, Apple has to pay Qualcomm fees to use components and patents associated with the technologies at work in some of its devices.

However, it sued Qualcomm in early 2017, claiming that the chipmaker was overcharging for the LTE modems it uses in its phones. Qualcomm countered with a lawsuit of its own, demanding even more money and citing patent infringement based on proprietary chip code that Apple supposedly shared with rival firm Intel.

Cutting ties

With the legal to-ing and fro-ing that has ensued, it appears that Apple is now looking to cut some of its ties with Qualcomm, or at least that’s what Qualcomm’s CFO George Davis is anticipating (via CNET).

“We believe Apple intends to solely use our competitor’s modems rather than our modems in its next iPhone release,” Davis said on a recent earnings call.

Davis never explicitly mentions Intel by name, but it’s widely believed that this is the “competitor” to which he’s referring.

The firm already has a working relationship with Apple and has served as the supplier for the cellular modem used by some versions on the iPhone for select carriers (such as T-Mobile and AT&T in the US).

As for the speed of Intel’s modems, the current crop falls short in side-by-side speed tests with their Qualcomm counterparts, and analysts expect the gap to endure once both companies release 5G modems into the industry.

Qualcomm is expected to reach this milestone before the end of the year, whilst Intel doesn’t look like it will deliver 5G-capable components to manufacturers until 2019.

Do you think the modem switch will have much of an impact on the iPhone 9? Let us know @TrustedReviews.