iPhone 11 uses Intel’s last 4G modem

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The days when iPhones use Intel modems are almost over, but not yet.
Photo: Thomas Hawk/Flickr

The end of the Apple’s war with Qualcomm didn’t come soon enough for this chip maker to get its 4G modems into the 2019 iPhone models. All three of Apple’s new handsets use a modem designed before Intel got out of this business.

Which possibly means this phone isn’t as fast as it could be.

Court cases can interfere with product design

Both Qualcomm and Intel once made iPhone modems, but then Apple and Qualcomm began a lengthy legal fight over patent licensing fees.

The result was that last year’s iOS models all use only Intel chips. And that could have continued as long as the court battle raged on, but Intel was really struggling trying to make a 5G modem. This forced Apple to give in and make a huge payment to end the war with Qualcomm.

The settlement was announced in April of this year, but that was apparently too late for Qualcomm chips to be included in the iPhone 11 or the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max.

Tests of these new handsets done by PCMag indicate that they all use an Intel modem. This is reportedly the second-generation XMM 7660.

Even average users should care about this because Qualcomm has historically made better modems than Intel. Back when the iPhone 7 used ones from both companies, Qualcomm’s offering had to be slowed down so the iPhones using them wouldn’t be noticeably faster than handsets with Intel modems.

It’s all Qualcomm for the 5G iPhone

The situation is going to be completely opposite next year. Qualcomm is apparently going to be the sole provider of 5G modems for all the 2020 iPhone models.

Intel won‘t be supplying any because it dropped out of the modem business and sold most of the relevant assets to Apple, who will eventually make its own modems.