Qualcomm’s 5G modem chips offer more specialized carrier features (like “Uplink Carrier Aggregation“), but our source says that many will not be widely adopted by carriers. Apple engineers believe that Intel’s 5G modem will fit its requirements for a future iPhone.
While Intel has lagged behind Qualcomm in modem technology, it purportedly has a small army numbering in the 'multiple thousands' working on 5G. Landing Apple's orders for the iPhone is considered a 'must-win' for the company.
Today Intel announced substantial advances in its wireless product roadmap to accelerate the adoption of 5G. Highlights include the introduction of the Intel XMM 8000 series, Intel’s first family of 5G new radio (5G NR) multi-mode commercial modems, and Intel’s latest LTE modem, the Intel XMM 7660. Intel also announced it has successfully completed a full end-to-end 5G call based on its early 5G silicon, the Intel 5G Modem – a key milestone in its development. Finally, the Intel XMM 7560 modem unveiled at Mobile World Congress 2017 has achieved gigabit-class speeds.
Apple first started using Intel modems for AT&T and T-Mobile customers with the launch of the iPhone 7. Given that Apple and Qualcomm are in the midst of a massive legal battle it's not surprising that Apple would design a future generation iPhone that doesn't use Qualcomm chips at all.
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