Apple was in talks to buy Intel’s 5G modem business

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This Intel modem will likely power the first 5G iPhone.
Apple's love affair with Intel was short-lived.
Photo: Intel

Apple nearly purchased Intel’s smartphone-modem chip business as a way to fix its impending 5G problems on the iPhone, according to a new report.

Talks between Intel and Apple allegedly came to an abrupt halt once the iPhone-maker settled its legal war with Qualcomm. The two sides had been talking about an acquisition since the summer, but it sounds like Intel’s hopes of selling have been dashed for now.

Intel currently makes LTE modems for the current lineup of iPhones. The company is also working on 5G modems, however, they’re not expected to be ready until 2021. That was one of the major factors that motivated Apple to reach a settlement with Qualcomm.

Intel exits the 5G market

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple wanted to acquire parts of Intel’s modem business as part of a multibillion-dollar deal as a way to accelerate its own modem development. Apple started hiring engineers in earnest over the last few months to pursue making its own wireless technology. The company already designs its own Bluetooth chips and A-series processors, so modems seem like it would be something Apple could handle.

Even though talks between Intel and Apple fell apart, Intel is allegedly still pursuing a sale of its modem making business. Goldman Sachs has been tasked with finding a buyer. The sale would likely include patents, modem designs, and possibly staff.

If Intel is able to find a buyer it would allow the company to jettison a division that reportedly loses the company $1 billion annually. Broadcom, ON Semiconductor, Samsung Electronic and China’s Unisoc Communications are listed as other potential buyers.