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Apple yesterday announced that it has agreed to acquire the majority of Intel's smartphone modem business. The $1 billion transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019, subject to regulatory approvals.

ipad-iphone-duo-ios-12.jpg

Understandably, the acquisition may enable Apple to accelerate development of its own 5G modem, with Reuters citing a source who claims the iPhone maker wants to have an in-house chip ready for use in some of its products by 2021, compared to previously reported timeframes of between 2022 and 2025.

New details lower down: Apple has partnered with Global Unichip, a design house connected to TSMC, on a modem design effort, and has an aggressive goal of 2021 for a working chip (vs the 2025 estimate previously reported by @aatilley ) https://t.co/h7106MAPgy - Stephen Nellis (@StephenNellis) July 25, 2019

Apple's transition to custom 5G modems will likely happen in phases, starting with lower-end and older models of devices, according to the report. Apple has a multiyear chipset supply agreement with Qualcomm, and a six-year patent license agreement, so it certainly does not have to rush the process.

The report does not explicitly mention the iPhone, so the first product with an Apple-designed modem could very well end up being an iPad. In any case, the transition away from Qualcomm will likely take years, as its modems lead the industry in performance and worldwide compatibility.

In the interim, Intel is expected to supply LTE modems for 2019 iPhones, with Apple returning to Qualcomm for the first 5G-enabled iPhones in 2020.

Article Link: Apple Reportedly Wants to Have a Custom 5G Modem Ready for Use in Some Products by 2021
 

gsmornot

macrumors 68040
Sep 29, 2014
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2021 is a reasonable timeline. To have widespread deployment of service will take that long at least since it works at such a high frequency. Its not like current cell towers can be reused. In the meantime, I think we can do fine with hot spot devices that provide the fast service to many devices at once.
 

Andres Cantu

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May 31, 2015
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As long as Apple can keep up with Qualcomm. Intel was always one step behind in terms of speed and performance.

I could see the Apple-designed modem having benefits like better battery efficiencies.
 
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Juicy Box

macrumors 604
Sep 23, 2014
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2021 is a reasonable timeline. To have widespread deployment of service will take that long at least since it works at such a high frequency.

Based on the technology and everything I have read about it, I think widespread deployment of 5G by 2021 is a very, very ambitious schedule.

At least in the US, I think many of use will be using LTE for much of our mobile data needs for a long time to come.
 

jpn

Cancelled
Feb 9, 2003
1,854
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nice dream.

apple's moonshot.

i would not want to buy any product with apple's first internally designed 5G modem substantially based on intel work.
 
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anshuvorty

macrumors 68040
Sep 1, 2010
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California, USA
I just don't understand how a change in management can result in a change of performance in these chips. Can someone explain why Apple acquiring Intel's miserable Modem's division, which couldn't produce Qualcomm-levels of performance in these 4G chips, suddenly being managed by Apple, will allow this same team to produce chips that will beat Qualcomm's designed chips in 2-5 years? If Intel couldn't make this team produce great chips, how can Apple make this same team produce great chips?

AKA, what does Apple have that Intel doesn't have?
 

urnotl33t

macrumors 6502a
Jan 26, 2017
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Cary, NC, USA
The first "5G" thing won't be iPhone or Watch, of course. It will be iPad Pro. That will be part of the "Pro" delineation at first. Just like LTE was first on the iPad before iPhone (even that same year, Early 2012). Yeah, chips may have been ready(-ish). So at that time, we may actually get an "Early 2021" iPad Pro.

My crystal ball is kinda flaky and cloudy, tho, so I'm likely *waaay* off my rocker. Even my daughter says, so, ... often. :)

Or maybe they'll just be super-organized and it'll be Late 2021 for just the iPad Pro, and 2022 for iPhone 5G. hah, wouldn't that just blow up the numbering plan? iPhone 5GX? oh this will be fun...
 

laptech

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Apr 26, 2013
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I am sure many of us can foresee what is going to happen, Apple purchases Intels mobile-phone modem business. Apple uses some of Qulacomm's IP in the making of the 5G modem chips and we end up back where it all started, qulacomm accusing Apple of illegally using the companies patents.
 

truthertech

macrumors 68020
Jun 24, 2016
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Im not sure Apple needs to ship 5G next year. The roll-out, the technology and prices are still not quite there.

It is essential that Apple ships 5G next year, and they will with Qualcomm's modems. That is why even though Apple felt they had the strong hand in the lawsuit, settled with Qualcomm once it became clear to them that Intel wasn't going to have the 5G ready for 2020.

Even though 5G is just starting to roll out in some cities, the roll out has started and it's being increasingly hyped in the press. In 2020 the iPhone would be beat mercilessly by its rivals over not being 5G capable and would lose significant sales to people who don't understand that 5G wasn't going to be widespread in 2020, and to a large segment of people who plan on keeping their phone several years who wouldn't buy an iPhone that wouldn't "last" several years because it couldn't handle 5G in 2021 and beyond.
 
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Abazigal

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Jul 18, 2011
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I just don't understand how a change in management can result in a change of performance in these chips. Can someone explain why Apple acquiring Intel's miserable Modem's division, which couldn't produce Qualcomm-levels of performance in these 4G chips, suddenly being managed by Apple, will allow this same team to produce chips that will beat Qualcomm's designed chips in 2-5 years? If Intel couldn't make this team produce great chips, how can Apple make this same team produce great chips?

AKA, what does Apple have that Intel doesn't have?
My guess is that Apple won't be subject to the same business considerations that Intel has.

I might be wrong, but while Apple was pretty much Intel's only customer for their modems, Intel's modems were still designed for the entire industry. When your only concern is that your own modems need only work with your own devices, as opposed to every other smartphone on the market, that gives engineers a lot more leeway on what they can do (and what they don't need to do).

So Intel's modems don't have to be strictly better than Qualcomm's. They simply need to do what Apple needs it to do, and between that and the hardware / software integration that Apple is famous for, they just might be able to trick out superior (or at least, comparable) performance.

In a sense, it's like how Apple was able to use its clout to push developers towards converting their apps to 64-bit, which meant their A-series processors no longer need to support 32-bit code, while Qualcomm's chips probably still do.
 

ilikewhey

macrumors 68040
May 14, 2014
3,579
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Dude, I am amused. What has Qualcomm ever done to you, personally?

And, on topic, which company is "nice" when negotiating advantage?
[Apple told its sapphire supplier ‘Put on your big boy pants’]
prob some sort of personal entitlement, seeing how qualcomm gave a hard time to apple and apple fanboys in certain shape or form feel its a personal attack on them. not saying this applies to the guy your quoting but in overall generality.
 

paul4339

macrumors 65816
Sep 14, 2009
1,448
732
makes sense to do the transition in multiple phases, starting with the iPads or older phones.
Keep latest flagship iPhones on Qualcomm until they are sure they have a solid product.
 

michaeljk

macrumors regular
Dec 14, 2013
128
157
I just don't understand how a change in management can result in a change of performance in these chips. Can someone explain why Apple acquiring Intel's miserable Modem's division, which couldn't produce Qualcomm-levels of performance in these 4G chips, suddenly being managed by Apple, will allow this same team to produce chips that will beat Qualcomm's designed chips in 2-5 years? If Intel couldn't make this team produce great chips, how can Apple make this same team produce great chips?

AKA, what does Apple have that Intel doesn't have?

My guess is that it is less about the actual technology and Apple tweaking what is there, than it is about Apple having a base of patents from which to draw upon to create a roadmap for technologies Apple can build, and then have a defense when (almost inevitably) Qualcomm ends up making claims that Apple is using unlicensed Qualcomm patents.
 
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