VP helping lead the charge for a 5G iPhone departs company

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2020 could be Apple's greatest year so far
A veteran Apple VP who was a big proponent for a 5G iPhone is leaving.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The Apple vice president in charge of sourcing 4G and 5G iPhone modems has left. The departure of Rubén Caballero comes as this part of Apple’s business is in transition, with Qualcomm once again available to provide these vital components.

It seems developing a 5G iPhone is going to continue to be more difficult than one might expect.

Previously, Caballero was in charge of working with suppliers to get 4G modems from third-party’s suppliers.

His departure was noted by The Information. However, his LinkedIn profile says he still works for Apple.

What this executive leaving Apple means — if it means anything — is unknown. Neither he not Apple have been willing to comment. He’s been VP of Engineering at Apple since 2005, and maybe he just decided it was time to move on. But there’s a lot going on in his department.

A change of bosses

While Caballero is tasked with getting modems from outside suppliers, earlier this year’s he was moved into the department of Johny Srouji, the SVP who oversees development of the Apple A-series processors.

This is seen as a sign that the company is designing its own 5G modem. These aren’t expected to be available for several years, though. Still, Caballero might not be needed any more. Apple seems to have its modem supplier lined up for next year already: Qualcomm.

A bumpy transition from 4G to 5G

After years in court, Apple’s long legal war with Qualcomm recently came to an end. When this was going on, Apple sourced its 4G LTE modems entirely from Intel. That relationship will continue with the 2019 iPhones.

But Qualcomm could be the exclusive provider of modems for the first 5G iPhone expected in 2020, as Intel has stopped its efforts to develop the necessary chip.

Perhaps Caballero has simply been wanting to move on and just stuck around until the kerfuffle with Qualcomm was settled. He has reportedly been a big proponent for 5G inside Apple.