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Intel abandons plans for 5G phone chips

If you were wondering what caused Apple and Qualcomm’s legal battle to abruptly come to an end last night, an announcement from Intel shortly afterwards may give us something of a hint.

Intel, the company Apple was relying on to make its 5G mobile modems given it couldn’t work with Qualcomm, announced it was giving up on making 5G mobile modems.

It’s something of a chicken and egg question: did Intel abandon 5G because Apple lost faith in it, or did Intel’s retreat force Apple’s hand? If it’s the latter, Apple will have been left with two choices: invite in a new third party like Huawei – difficult in the current political climate – or make peace with Qualcomm.     

As you might expect, Intel tried to look to the positive, emphasising its ongoing commitment to LTE and 5G for smarthome and PC. “We are very excited about the opportunity in 5G and the ‘cloudification’ of the network, but in the smartphone modem business it has become apparent that there is no clear path to profitability and positive returns,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan.

Related: What is 5G?

“5G continues to be a strategic priority across Intel, and our team has developed a valuable portfolio of wireless products and intellectual property. We are assessing our options to realise the value we have created, including the opportunities in a wide variety of data-centric platforms and devices in a 5G world.”

With hindsight, the signs for both this retreat and Apple making peace with Qualcomm were there to see. Back in February, reports began to surface suggesting Apple was going to drop Intel for its 5G modem due to ongoing production difficulties. At the time Intel denied the report saying its plans were going ahead unchanged, but it seems that was the company putting a brave face on things.

Is one less company in the 5G modem industry a worry? Let us know what you think on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.

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