Intel abandons the modem and leaves the iPhone in the lurch

Yesterday events were precipitated in one of the most expected trials in the technology sector. Apple and Qualcomm announced a cessation of hostilities and reached an out-of-court settlement two days after the trial against them began. A handful of hours later, we knew why: Intel was abandoning the race for consumer 5G modems .

“There is no clear path to profitability”

In just three paragraphs, Intel’s press release got rid of the problem. The 5G for the consumer market has reached the end of the road and will not continue for the company, leaving Apple in the lurch. Just a few months ago, Intel announced that it was stepping on the gas with its 5G mobile modem:

Intel abandons the modem and leaves the iPhone in the lurch
Intel abandons the modem and leaves the iPhone in the lurch

But the delays that we are already used to with Intel on x86 processors also made an appearance on these modems. At the beginning of this April it was already rumored that the debut of a 5G modem from Intel on the 2020 iPhone was in the air due to the delays.

Now it is clear what was happening. Intel doesn’t see enough reward as to compensate for the effort and investment needed to bring a 5G consumer modem to market. And it seems that neither Samsung nor Mediatek would arrive in time. Everything indicates that this situation has precipitated Apple’s decision.

The urgency of the Apple-designed modem

With Intel’s fall from the race for 5G , Apple loses a supplier that had become essential in its immediate strategy. The company always bets on having two suppliers for the realization of star components or vital manufacturing processes.

In the past we have seen how Apple used TSMC and Samsung to make the processors designed by them and how the OLED displays were shared between LG and Samsung. With the legal battle with Qualcomm, we have learned that Cupertino aspired to have Intel and those from San Diego for the modems of the current generation of iPhone. However, Qualcomm refused.

At Apple This is serious: the design of new modems comes under the Apple chip team according to Reuters

This setback highlights the urgent need to develop Apple’s own 5G chip . It was recently leaked that the company had moved the design of new 5G modems to the team of Johny Srouji, the senior vice president of hardware technologies.

From the literature, we know that Qualcomm and Apple have reached a six-year patent license agreement, extended for another two years. This means that Qualcomm’s modems will be present on the iPhone for several years, although not necessarily for the next six new generations. In other words, could be in the next three new generations and that these remain in the catalog for another three years, while the new ones would already have a 5G modem from Apple.

As time passes, we will know more about the details of this agreement. But everything indicates that Apple has no choice but to put aside its differences and get along with Qualcomm.

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