Apple-Designed iPhone Modems Could Take Until 2025, Intel Confirms Interest in Its Modem Business

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, May 15, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    The Information has published a lengthy look into Apple's seemingly deteriorating relationship with Intel in terms of iPhone modems, leading to Apple's rekindled relationship with rival chipmaker Qualcomm last month.


    The report claims that Apple's frustrations with Intel's modem efforts began much earlier than some previous reports had indicated, and involved struggles with modems for the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR, not just 5G smartphone modem development that Intel abandoned last month.
    The size and structure of Intel's mobile division made it difficult to efficiently engineer modems, with teams struggling to work together, according to multiple current and former Intel employees and industry partners cited in the report.

    In a statement provided to The Information, Intel also confirmed interest in its modem business from many companies, reportedly including Apple:
    While it appears that Apple and Qualcomm's multi-year licensing and chipset supply agreement will result in Qualcomm supplying modems for the first 5G-enabled iPhones, expected to launch in 2020, multiple reports have indicated that Apple is on the path to developing its own cellular modems.

    According to The Information, however, those in-house efforts appear to be farther away than initially thought. During interviews, the report claims Apple told prospective engineers that it expects to have its own modem ready by 2025, far later than the earliest considered possibility of 2021.

    All in all, the report reaffirms the belief that Apple was so fed up with Intel's modem struggles that it had little to no choice but to settle its bitter legal battle with Qualcomm. That should result in Qualcomm modems in iPhones for at least a few years, at least until Apple finalizes its own chip.

    Article Link: Apple-Designed iPhone Modems Could Take Until 2025, Intel Confirms Interest in Its Modem Business
  2. twocents, May 15, 2019
    Last edited: May 15, 2019

    twocents macrumors regular


    Mar 31, 2016
    California, USA
    They must be working out all of the apparent health and cancer risks associated with the 5G network... /s
  3. EllZ89 macrumors newbie

    May 15, 2019
    makes sense that its that far off, considering Apple have entered into a 6 year agreement with Qualcomm.
  4. johannnn macrumors 65816


    Nov 20, 2009
    Given all the players in the modem space, and how long back they go, it should be extremely difficult to make a modem and at the same time circumvent all the existing patents. Not surprised that they predict it takes multiple years.

    Tin foil hat...
  5. farkingdom macrumors member

    Mar 20, 2012
    That is why I do not understand why some people thought Apple could easily develop a modem (like poof! magically) and deliver the best performance that somehow is able to beat Qualcomm's? This is call pure fanboy-ism
  6. EvilEvil macrumors 6502a


    Jan 8, 2007
    New York City
    With the trillions of dollars they have, Apple is so slow.
  7. chucker23n1 macrumors 68020


    Dec 7, 2014
    "We invested and lost a ton of money in this failed product line. That's why we really hope someone buys it."

    Like… why wouldn't Intel say that? They've already conceded they want to exit that business, so their best bet now is to get potential suitors interested.
  8. Glideslope macrumors 603


    Dec 7, 2007
    A quiet place in NY.
    Apple has $243B in cash reserves ending Q2 2019. Not Trillions. Although I assume you were being hyperbolic. ;)
  9. nvmls macrumors 6502a


    Mar 31, 2011
  10. timber macrumors 6502

    Aug 30, 2006
    Whatever you think of Qualcomm's "evilness" and Apple's "kindness" this makes Apple's recent years course of action rather foolish.

    And they are supposedly much better informed.
  11. MrGunnyPT macrumors 6502


    Mar 23, 2017
    A modem is one of the hardest things to develop and implement on a phone due to the IP license and how hard it is to get it right.. Mix that in with half of the best engineers working at Qualcomm or moving on from the field and poof it becomes a pain in the ass to develop an in house one.

    You got Huawei, Samsung and Qualcomm in 5G game atm
  12. brian3uk macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2016
    I just wonder how Apple will spin their phone's cellular capabilities this year with so many people knowing that the Intel modems aren't great.
  13. BootsWalking macrumors 6502a

    Feb 1, 2014
    I predict Apple's 5G wireless chip will suffer the same fate as their wireless charging pad.
  14. DotCom2 macrumors 68040

    Feb 22, 2009
    A little disappointing but I hope that in taking their time, they do it right.
  15. Intellectua1 Suspended


    Jun 3, 2016
    Seattle, Washington
    Yeah those comments were so ridiculous right along with the Apple should buy Qualcomm comments, some people should really read other tech blogs to understand how things actually work instead of drowning themselves in only pro Apple websites
  16. Jerus macrumors member

    Jan 13, 2017
    Since you asked for it, "the best Intel Modem ever in an iPhone".
    Or just not mention it.
  17. ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    Saying you're going to have an electronic component in 6 years sounds to me like you're not going to start on it for another 3 years.
  18. PickUrPoison, May 15, 2019
    Last edited: May 17, 2019 at 4:59 AM

    PickUrPoison Suspended

    Sep 12, 2017
    Sunnyvale, CA
    It’s certainly not easy, nor is 2025 particularly surprising to those of us who have experience in the cellular modem space. It’s quite an undertaking.

    But Apple has licensed Qualcomm’s 130,000+ patent portfolio and has access to the SEPs from all other patent holders (Ericsson, Samsung, Nokia, Huawei, Norte etc.) at favorable rates. They’ll also license other patents where there is additional IP Apple wishes to incorporate, or where they discover they have inadvertently infringed.

    There’s no reason Apple can’t design a baseband chip that equals or exceeds Qualcomm’s. Being located in San Diego (and willing to pay top dollar), they’ll also be able to access most of Qualcomm’s talent. But it will take quite some time, and 2025 would seem to be a decent estimate.
  19. magicschoolbus macrumors 65816


    May 27, 2014
    What is wrong with Intel? I feel like it's seriously a company with a totally wrong vision (maybe I am wrong here) - but the future is mobile. Once iPads begin running a hybrid if iOS and Mac OS on A series chips, and Androids begin dual booting Chrome OS and Android Mobile OS... they are DONE. And I think we are a LOT closer to this happening then most people think.
  20. realtuner macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2019
    One has nothing to do with the other. Apple was ALWAYS in a position to buy modems from Intel or Qualcomm or anyone else who would sell to them.

    The legal battle was over licensing fees, NOT over who Apple can buy modems from.
  21. PickUrPoison Suspended

    Sep 12, 2017
    Sunnyvale, CA
    They don’t have to circumvent any patents, any they need are available for license. They’ve also already signed a 6-8 year agreement for Qualcomm’s 130,000+ patents so there’s that.
  22. NT1440 macrumors G5


    May 18, 2008
    It’s more about engineering around existing IP than it is about speed. IP laws around the world are utter ******** that amount to revenue rent-seeking than anything. Technology IP patents shouldn’t last more than 10 years in my opinion. Any longer and you’re essentially stifling innovation rather than generating it like all the major Tech companies proclaim.
    --- Post Merged, May 15, 2019 ---
    Oh, so Qualcomm doesn’t license anything themselves now? Given the last 40+ years of tech I find that hard to believe.
  23. iReality85 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 29, 2008
    Upstate NY
    Or Apple could just stick with Qualcomm because they produce reliable modem chips.

    But it kind of floors me that Intel couldn't get its you-know-what together with LTE modem chips. Their I219-V LAN and wireless LAN chipsets for PC motherboards are widely considered to be very good.
  24. macduke macrumors G4


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    There are so many patents that they have to come up with new solutions for. At this point they might just be targeting 6G. It can be difficult to pivot to something you've never done before, especially when it's in such a litigious industry that is heavily regulated.
  25. PickUrPoison Suspended

    Sep 12, 2017
    Sunnyvale, CA
    That line in the MR articles always makes me chuckle, as if Qualcomm didn’t have even more incentive to settle. Given the incredibly favorable deal the supply chain guru masterminded, it’s quite apparent who “had little to no choice but to settle”.

    Samsung was playing hard to get as a negotiating strategy, but I think they would have managed to find the fab capacity when $3-5 billion in revenue was available for the taking.

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