2019 iPhone will have Intel 4G modems inside

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intel
Intel will supposedly supply a vital component for the iPhone 11.
Photo: Thomas Hawk/Flickr

Details about the 2019 iPhone models are starting to trickle out. Intel CEO seems to have said today that his company will be supplying 4G modems for this device.

Bob Swan’s comment is deliberately oblique, but at least one expert has taken it as an indication that Apple isn’t ready to fully switch to Qualcomm modems in its iPhones.

The changing modem market

Intel and Qualcomm once made 4G LTE modems for iPhone until Apple and Qualcomm became embroiled in a series of bitter legal battles. But now that these two have patched things up, both chip makers could again supply modems for future iOS handsets.

But there’s a wrinkle. Right after Apple and Qualcomm revealed that their wrangling was over, Intel announced that it was ceasing development of its 5G modem.

“In light of the announcement of Apple and Qualcomm, we assessed the prospects for us to make money while delivering this technology for smartphones and concluded at the time that we just didn’t see a path,” Swan told The Wall Street Journal.

4G yes, 5G no

But it seems that decision doesn’t mean the company won‘t keep making 4G LTE modems. As Intel’s CEO reportedly said today, “Our expectation is we will continue to deliver on the 4G modem throughout the course of this year, including the second iteration of that product coming in the fall back to school season.”

Stephen Nellis from Reuters was quick to draw a conclusion from this remark. As he posted on Twitter, “In other words: Intel CEO Bob Swan confirms that Intel expects to be in this fall’s Apple iPhones.”

Swan’s comment is referring to the second generation of the XMM 7660. The current version is used in all the 2018 iPhone models.

No Intel in 5G iPhone

But with Intel out of the running for supplying modems for the first 5G iPhone, Qualcomm is Apple’s best option. It’s generally assumed this was the whole point of Apple settling with the chip maker, which could have cost it as much as $6 billion.

However, the first iOS handset with this faster type of wireless connection isn’t expected until 2020. The 2019 iPhones will stick with 4G LTE and Intel.