Intel is expected to be the sole provider of modems for the upcoming smartphone, keeping Qualcomm out of the Apple supply chain. A precursor to the 8161 called the 8060 is being developed for testing purposes but the chip is purportedly suffering from heat dissipation issues. A source tells Fast Company that Apple has been unhappy with Intel lately and those issues are likely to blame.
Many wireless carriers, including Verizon and AT&T in the U.S., will initially rely on millimeter-wave spectrum (between 30 gigahertz and 300 Ghz) to connect the first 5G phones. But millimeter-wave signal requires some heavy lifting from the modem chips, our source explains. This causes the release of higher-than-normal levels of thermal energy inside the phone–so much so that the heat can be felt on the outside of the phone. The problem also affects battery life. Heat generated by a device component is always converted from electricity stored in the battery.
It doesn't appear that the problems are serious enough to cause Apple to turn to Qualcomm for 5G modems; however, the company has purportedly had conversations with MediaTek as a Plan B. There's still a year to a year and a half for Intel to make improvements as Apple's launch follows well after the first wave of 5G smartphones which will unveiled at Mobile World Congress in February.
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