Following the abrupt end of their two-year-long legal spat and Intel’s sudden exit from the smartphone modem business, Japan’s Nikkei reports Apple will start integrating Qualcomm 5G modems into the iPhone starting in 2020.
“It is too late for Apple to use Qualcomm’s chip this year, but for 2020 it will purchase modem chips, including 5G modem chips, from the chipmaker for iPhone after finalizing the deal,” says Nikkei, quoting a “source with direct knowledge of the settlement plan.”
Echoing a variety of other past reports, the publication adds Apple had started to lose confidence as to whether Intel could deliver a working 5G modem in time for the launch of the 2020 iPhones.
Quoting a “person familiar with the matter,” Nikkei writes: “Apple had been a little concerned whether a sole supplier for modems could affect the company’s plans to introduce its first 5G smartphone new year.”
As part of its settlement with Qualcomm, Apple agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to the chipmaker. It also signed a six-year licensing agreement, with the option to extend the deal a further two years, with Qualcomm.
In the short-term, even if Canadian carriers don’t launch their 5G networks in 2020, the fact the new iPhones will feature Qualcomm modems again is a positive for Canadian consumers. In test after test, Qualcomm’s LTE modems lapped whatever Intel could muster. At the moment, the Qualcomm modem Apple is most likely to integrate into the 2020 iPhone is the X55. The X55 is multi-mode modem that is capable of both LTE and 5G connectivity simultaneously.
In the long-term, it’s unlikely this the last we’ll hear of any animosity between Apple and Qualcomm. The potential eight-year time frame of the licensing agreement Apple signed on Tuesday gives the company more than enough time to develop its own modems, which it was already doing ahead of Tuesday’s announcement.