Apple drops Intel modems for key iPhone 5G release, report claims

UPDATE: 6/7/2018: Intel has claimed the report is inaccurate. In a statement, the company said its plans for 5G products are unchained.

A spokesperson told VentureBeat: “Intel’s 5G customer engagements and roadmap have not changed for 2018 through 2020. We remain committed to our 5G plans and projects.”

The company was also asked whether it’d still be making the 5G modems for the 2020 iPhone, the company said that “the Intel 5G modem part of the story is inaccurate.” That doesn’t really confirm things either way.

Original story continues below…

Apple is ditching plans to use Intel’s 5G modems for its 2020 iPhones, causing the chipmaker to ditch project development completely, reports this week have claimed.

Calcalist sources says Apple has notified Intel it no longer intends to use the ‘Sunny Park’ modem for those iPhones still two years away from production.

Apple is expected to enlist MediaTek to produce the modems instead, given its fractured relationship with Qualcomm, the other major player in the field. Incidentally, it was that break-up which allowed Intel to get its foot in the door with Apple as a modem supplier in current iPhones.

The report says Intel has cancelled the development of the Sunny Park 5G modem as a result of Apple’s decision. It’s probably a wise move considering Apple was going to be the biggest customer – or “main volume driver” as a source put it – by a considerable distance.

Related: What is 5G?

Given 2020 is the year most observers expect 5G services to become widely available, the change in tack is significant. If Apple deploys a reliable MediaTek modem, which does a good job in providing 5G speeds, it is likely to earn repeat business in future years.

Intel is planning to reengage Apple for its 2022 iPhones, according to the report, while Qualcomm and Apple may bridge their divide once a series of lawsuits and counter lawsuits are out of the way.

From a consumer perspective, it’s unlikely the vast majority iPhone users will notice a difference, whomever Apple goes with for its 5G smartphones.

Earlier today OnePlus said it was targeting 2019 for its first smartphone with 5G capabilities. Whether Apple will follow suit or is waiting for 2020 remains to be seen.

It would be wise for smartphone manufacturers to get the chips into the phones sooner rather than later, even if the mobile data speeds don’t become available in the next year. Increasingly, smartphone owners are looking to hang onto devices for longer, so those buying handsets in the next 12 months are bound to have one eye on the 5G rollout.

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