The 5G iPhone might be the final blow for Intel’s mobile chips

Intel denies its halting production of 5G modems following Apple snub

Intel denies its halting production of 5G modems following Apple snub

The CTech report cited unnamed Intel executives as saying that the company reassigned the team that was working on the planned modem to other projects. Now reportedly Intel has killed off production of its Radio Chips "Sunny Peak following Apple dropping Intel as its supplier".

Apple's future iPhone plans appear to be coming into sharper focus based on two separate reports today: The company is said to be planning new colors for 2018's iPhones, and it is expected to dump modem supplier Intel for future 5G iPhones. CTech says that Intel executives blamed Apple's decision on "many factors", but specifically mentioned that integration of the up-and-coming 802.11ad (WiGig) Wi-Fi standard meant "new and unanticipated challenges" for designing "any mobile product".

That dream looks like it's on hold now, though.

Over the last few years, Intel's mobile communication business has enjoyed significantly higher visibility and revenue thanks to one major customer win in particular: Apple. By 2020 - the year most tech analysts expect a 5G iPhone - Intel might not have modems in any iPhones.

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Apple is reportedly developing its own modems (because of course it is) and exploring the possibility of using wireless chips made by MediaTek. At the same time, though, heavyweight Qualcomm has been crowing of its growing 5G traction-Qualcomm in February said more than a dozen handset makers around the world have selected its Snapdragon X50 5G NR modem to power their forthcoming 5G phones, an announcement the company argued gives it a 12- to 18-month lead on its competitors in the 5G arena.

It's not a bad thing if Intel were to exit making "baseband" modem chips altogether, he writes, and perhaps the recent departure of Brian Krzanich from the top spot will produce a new leader with "a better ear for our call to exit" that business.

Although 5G chips in smartphones will be available in 2019, network adaptation is a bit slower, so large-scale rollout of gigabit speeds is expected in 2020. Securing a deal with the iPhone maker would strengthen Intel's market position amid the shift to 5G, a set of networking technologies now being implemented by major carriers. Apple's $1 billion lawsuit against Qualcomm is centered on Apple's argument that Qualcomm charges too much for licenses to its patents for mobile phones.

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