Old iPhones are back on sale in Germany, as Apple reverts to Qualcomm chips

Just before Christmas, Apple was forced to remove iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 devices from sale in Germany, after Qualcomm forced an injunction. The ongoing dispute relates to Qorvo Inc chips within the devices that Qualcomm claims infringe on a patent related to envelope tracking.

Well, now the devices are back on sale in Germany, with Apple getting around the problem by packing the older handsets with Qualcomm’s own chips, instead of the Intel ones that interact with the Qorvo ones.

Despite this seemingly conciliatory move, Apple was still very much on the attack against Qualcomm and put its position in no uncertain terms in a widely-shared statement.

Qualcomm is attempting to use injunctions against our products to try to get Apple to succumb to their extortionist demands,” an Apple spokesperson said. “In many cases they are using patents they purchased or that have nothing to do with their cellular technology to harass Apple and other industry players.

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“To ensure all iPhone models can again be available to customers in Germany, we have no choice but to stop using Intel chips and ship our phones with Qualcomm chips in Germany. Qualcomm is working to eliminate competition by any means they can, harming consumers and stifling industry innovation along the way.

“We are as committed as ever to standing up for innovation and we will continue to fight for what’s right.”

The injunction didn’t impact newer iPhones with Intel chips on board, which have remained on sale in Germany for the duration of this standoff. “Intel’s modem products are not involved in this lawsuit and are not subject to this or any other injunction,” Intel’s general counsel, Steven Rodgers, said in a statement. “Over the past few years, Qualcomm has failed to win even a single injunction on 37 patent claims it has asserted against Intel’s products, yet it continues to pursue its litigation campaign to attempt to force customers into business deals that Qualcomm has been unable to win on the basis of price and features.

“We continue to urge courts and competition authorities to carefully examine Qualcomm’s business practices.” 

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This is just one of many legal back-and-forths between Apple and Qualcomm going on at the moment, and although the German situation is (semi) resolved, it likely won’t be long before the drama kicks off again in another territory.

Is the end in sight for the Qualcomm vs Apple fight? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.