There is an increasing likelihood that Apple will not be able to launch a 5G iPhone next year. Apple is ramping up its in-house modem efforts as it loses confidence in Intel’s ability to deliver 5G Modem in time for the launch of its first 5G iPhone in 2020.
The primary argument is that Apple has no clear choice for 5G modems, a critical component in Apple being able to ship a 5G-compatible iPhone. Intel, which was to be Apple’s sole supplier of 5G modems for its 2020 iPhones given the firm’s ongoing beef with Qualcomm, needs to deliver sample parts to Apple by early summer of this year before delivering a finished modem design in early 2020.
However, Intel’s 5G modem roadmap is not bearing much fruit currently. that Intel has been missing deadlines for the development of its XMM 8160 5G modem, despite last year bringing forward the launch of the chip by six months. Intel has said it aims to release 5G chipsets by the end of next year. UBS does not believe that Intel will meet the deadline and be able to supply a single chip backward-compatible 5G modem in time for the 2020 iPhone generation. Apple has actually campaigned to the International Trade Commission that a ruling against Apple in its lawsuit with Qualcomm will stagnate 5G innovation, as Intel will not be able to compete.
In a statement to VentureBeat, however, Intel suggested that its XMM 8160 launch plans remain the same. “As we said in November 2018,” a spokesperson said, “Intel plans to support customer device launches in 2020 with its XMM 8160 5G multimode modem.” The company pointed back to the November 2018 announcement of the XMM 8160, in which it characterized that chip’s rollout in the second half of 2019 as accelerated to meet the needs of “broad global 5G rollouts.”