2018 iPhones to use Intel modems as Apple shuns Qualcomm

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Intel chip
This year's iPhone lineup could be Qualcomm-free.
Photo: Intel

This year’s iPhone lineup will rely exclusively on Intel modems, according to one reliable analyst. Apple previously bought modems from Qualcomm, but it seems Cupertino is shunning the chipmaker in light of a series of recent lawsuits.

Apple first sued Qualcomm in January 2017, alleging the company owed $1 billion in rebates. Cupertino then decided to withhold royalty payments for Qualcomm modems included in Apple products. Qualcomm followed with a series of lawsuits of its own.

Qualcomm even tried to get the iPhone banned in China, then sought another ban last November in an effort to block iPhone X imports into the U.S. As all of this has played out, Apple has reportedly been on the hunt for another modem supplier.

Apple enlists Intel

Reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo now claims Apple found that in Intel.

“We expect Intel to be the exclusive supplier of baseband chip for 2H18 new iPhone models, while Qualcomm may not have a share of the orders at all,” reads Kuo’s note to investors, which was obtained by MacRumors.

Previous rumors indicated Intel would supply 70 percent of modems for this year’s iPhone lineup, with Qualcomm making up the difference. It now seems as though Qualcomm’s legal spat with Apple resulted in the loss of its iPhone business entirely.

Intel’s most recent modem, the XMM7560, is its first to meet Apple’s needs. Unlike previous offerings, it supports both GSM and CDMA networks. That allows connectivity across all major carriers in the United States and in most other markets around the world.

Kuo also promises substantially faster LTE speeds from Apple’s next-generation handsets. The XMM7560 boasts 4×4 MIMO technology, an upgrade over the 2×2 MIMO offered by iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

“Kuo added that it’s too early to tell if Intel will be able to maintain its position of exclusivity in the future,” MacRumors continues. “He adds that Apple may give orders to Qualcomm again in exchange for concessions in the ongoing lawsuit between the two companies.”

Kuo expects Qualcomm to chase Chinese smartphone manufacturers to make up its lost orders.