A senior Apple executive confirmed that Apple looked into using MediaTek and Samsung to supply chips for 5G connectivity in its next generation of iPhones to be released in 2019.
Vice-president of procurement Tony Belvins testified on January 11th, 2019 and said that talking with Samsung, one of the company’s biggest competitors, was “not an ideal environment.”
From 2011 to 2016, Apple relied on San Diego-based chipmaker Qualcomm to help its phones connect to wireless networks. But at the beginning of 2016, Apple decided to split that business between Intel and Qualcomm.
In 2018, Qualcomm announced Apple was heading in a different direction and said that the tech giant was no longer going to use Qualcomm as its modem supplier.
“We believe Apple intends to solely use or competitor’s modems rather than our modems in its next iPhone release,” said the company’s chief financial officer, George Davis, during the company’s Q3 2018 earnings call in June 2018. Davis didn’t mention Intel by name, but Intel is currently the only other company that sells LTE modems to Apple.
At the time, Apple launched ‘Project Antique,’ a program to find a second modem supplier, Belvins explained during his testimony.
“The entire concept of Project Antique was to find a second supplier. No offense to [Intel] but we don’t want to be single supplier with them. We wanted both Qualcomm and [Intel] in the mix,” Blevins said.
With the exception of older iPhone models, Apple currently sources all of the modems for its current iPhone lineup — iPhone XS, XS Max and XR — from Intel.
In December 2018, reports said Apple was in the process of making its own modem to use in its phones.
Belvins did not confirm if Apple had reached a decision on who it would use to supply its 5G modem and would also not confirm a date on when Apple’s 5G enabled phone will be released.
The legal battle between the two began in 2017 and doesn’t seem like it’s going to end any time soon.
In December 2018, Qualcomm said it wanted China to ban Apple’s latest smartphones, the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR, following a ban on older phones of the company’s handsets.
China is among one of Apple’s most important markets.