Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!

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

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
50,414
11,806



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.
It was early 2017 and Apple was preparing a new line of iPhones to be released the next year, but the Intel modem for the devices, known as the 7560, wasn't working properly, according to two people with knowledge of the relationship. [...] Intel had already overhauled the modem four times to bring it up to par with the latest Qualcomm modem. But missed deadlines and continuing technical issues with the chip were making Apple executives anxious, said one of the people.

"This would have never happened at Apple under my watch," Mr. Srouji barked at his Intel counterpart, Venkata "Murthy" Renduchintala, during a meeting on Apple's campus, according to the person, who was present at the meeting.
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:
We have world-class 5G modem technology that very few companies have the IP and expertise to deliver. That's why many companies have expressed interest in acquiring our cellular modem assets since our recent announcement that we are assessing our options to realize the value we have created.
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
 

johannnn

macrumors 68000
Nov 20, 2009
1,860
1,638
Sweden
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.


They must be working out all of the apparent health and cancer risks associated with the 5G network...
Tin foil hat...
 
  • Like
Reactions: jb-net and Stevez67
Comment

chucker23n1

macrumors 601
Dec 7, 2014
4,630
5,823
We have world-class 5G modem technology that very few companies have the IP and expertise to deliver. That's why many companies have expressed interest in acquiring our cellular modem assets since our recent announcement that we are assessing our options to realize the value we have created.

"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.
 
Comment

timber

macrumors 6502a
Aug 30, 2006
612
827
Lisbon
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.
 
Comment

MrGunnyPT

macrumors 65816
Mar 23, 2017
1,087
634
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
 
Comment

Intellectua1

Suspended
Jun 3, 2016
207
399
Seattle, Washington
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
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
 
Comment

Jerus

macrumors member
Jan 13, 2017
41
37
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.

Since you asked for it, "the best Intel Modem ever in an iPhone".
Or just not mention it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: brian3uk
Comment

ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
8,925
4,785
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.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Lesser Evets
Comment

PickUrPoison

macrumors 604
Sep 12, 2017
7,982
10,367
Sunnyvale, CA
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
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.
 
Last edited:
Comment

magicschoolbus

macrumors 68000
May 27, 2014
1,759
5,748
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.
 
  • Like
Reactions: nt5672 and tominco
Comment

realtuner

Suspended
Mar 8, 2019
1,714
5,053
Canada

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.

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.
 
Comment

PickUrPoison

macrumors 604
Sep 12, 2017
7,982
10,367
Sunnyvale, CA
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.
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.
 
  • Like
Reactions: chabig
Comment

NT1440

macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
12,506
15,834
With the trillions of dollars they have, Apple is so slow.
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.
[doublepost=1557933856][/doublepost]
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.
Oh, so Qualcomm doesn’t license anything themselves now? Given the last 40+ years of tech I find that hard to believe.
 
  • Like
Reactions: dabotsonline
Comment

iReality85

Contributor
Apr 29, 2008
1,054
2,277
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.
 
Comment

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
11,157
15,103
Central U.S.
With the trillions of dollars they have, Apple is so slow.
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.
 
Comment

PickUrPoison

macrumors 604
Sep 12, 2017
7,982
10,367
Sunnyvale, CA
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.
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.
 
Comment
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.