Intel says its 5G modem won’t be used in any phones until next year. This is Apple’s preferred modem maker but not it’s only option.
The company is reportedly considering other sources to provide the necessary modem for a 5G iPhone possibly coming this fall.
iPhone with Intel inside
All the 2018 iPhone models use Intel 4G modems so a slow delivery of Intel’s next-generation modems is bad news for Apple.
Sandra Rivera an Intel SVP told the media that her company will begin providing samples of its 5G chip before the end of this year but products using them aren‘t expected until next. Rivera is responsible for guiding Intel’s strategy, commitments and deliverables for 5G.
The company unveiled its XMM 8160 5G modem in late fall. This will support peak speeds up to 6 gigabits per second, making it significantly faster than LTE modems available today.
Apple still hoping for a 5G iPhone in 2019
But Intel isn’t Apple’s only possibility. An Apple executive said earlier this month that his company met with rival chip-makers Samsung and MediaTech about producing 5G modems for devices to launch this fall. It’s not known if the three came to any agreement that would lead to a 5G iPhone later this year.
There’s evidence too suggest Apple in contemplating making its own iPhone modems, in the same way it designs its own CPUs. If that’s the case, the company could almost certainly outsource the actual production of these chips. Whether that’s the plan for 2019 is a closely-held secret.
An unconfirmed report several months ago indicated that Apple’s not trying to move past 4G until 2020.
Qualcomm is (likely) out
The source of Cupertino’s problem sourcing 5G models is an ongoing series of lawsuits concerning patent infringement and licensing fees between Apple and Qualcomm. This chip maker already has a mobile 5G modem on the market, and it’s being used in an upcoming phone in the Samsung Galaxy S10 series.
However, the court battles between this chip maker and Apple make it very unlikely that any of its products would appear in an iPhone.
5G is still getting off the ground
Apple has some wiggle room. While Samsung just unveiled the Galaxy S10 5G, wireless carriers around the world are still bringing their 5G networks online.
For example, Verizon is a launch partner for that Samsung handset but doesn’t actually have this next-generation wireless tech available yet. It’s promised to roll it out in 30 cities by the end of this year.
AT&T already has it in a handful of US cities and plans to add to the list this year. T-Mobile is also planning to have 5G in 30 cities by the end of 2019. Sprint expects to have this faster tech in place in fewer than 10 cities by December.
Most of these wireless service providers promise they’ll have nationwide 5G availability by the end of 2020. That’s possibly right about the time a 5G iPhone will hit the market.