Qualcomm still prepared to supply 5G modems for iPhone

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Qualcomm is still prepared to supply Apple with 5G modems for a future iPhone — despite an ongoing legal battle between the two companies.

Reports have indicated Apple may be struggling to secure 5G modems from Intel and other vendors for a 2020 refresh. But Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon says, “if they call, we’ll support them.”

Apple has been locked in a messy legal battle with Qualcomm since 2017, and has since migrated to using Intel modems inside its iOS devices. The iPhone-maker is also said to be developing its own 5G modems for the future.

Until those are ready, however, it will have to continue to rely on third-parties. And that could mean turning back to Qualcomm next year.

5G iPhone faces modem challenges

Apple would ideally like to stick with Intel until its own modems are ready for mass-production. But according to recent reports, Intel is facing challenges that could mean its 5G modems aren’t ready in time for next year’s iPhone refresh.

One source claims “Apple has lost confidence in Intel to deliver” its 5G chip in time — and in the quantity Apple would require for a new iPhone lineup. Intel is said to have missed multiple development deadlines.

It is believed Apple has also held talks with Samsung and MediaTek, but their 5G modems won’t be ready in time for next year’s iPhone refresh, either.

It seems, then, that Apple has two choices. It can either delay its first 5G iPhone until Intel’s chips are ready — or it can start mass-producing its own. Or it could return to Qualcomm.

Qualcomm would welcome Apple orders

Should Apple choose to work with Qualcomm again, it would be welcomed with open arms.

“We’re still in San Diego, they have our phone number,” Amon told Axios this week. “If they call, we’ll support them.”

Amon added that while he “can’t really comment on what Apple is doing,” he warned that the longer it waits to launch a 5G iPhone, the higher the bar will be. Amon is obviously referring to growing competition from the 5G Android devices rolling out this year.

Apple modems could come in 2021

Apple is said to have 1,200 to 2,000 engineers — some of whom came from Intel and Qualcomm — dedicated to modem chip design. The project is being led by Johny Srouji, the company’s senior vice president of hardware technologies.

However, it is believed Apple’s own modems won’t be ready until 2021 at the earliest.