Apple is planning to replace chips from Qualcomm and use Intel modems in some models of its next smartphone models.
According a report published Friday, June 10, by Bloomberg, an Intel modem will go into iPhones for the AT&T Wireless network in the United States as well as in some international versions. Computerworld notes that, especially after Intel's decision to cancel its Atom project for phone chips, this would be a big win for the company. The high-tech giant hopes to capitalize on the upcoming mobile phone industry's move to 5G networks.
Today, Qualcomm is the main supplier for all the main modem components used in iPhones. The next iPhone model will be called the iPhone 7 and it is expected to be released on the market this fall. Apple will still use chips from Qualcomm in handsets sold in China as well as in iPhones for the Verizon Wireless network.
This is not the first time when a major mobile phone maker company would use different chips in different regions. For instance, Samsung uses Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 for their Galaxy S7 phones sold in the U.S., while in Asia and Europe it uses Exynos chips.
Qualcomm is considered by tech experts to have more advanced modems than Intel, in terms of performance. Intel's latest XMM7480 modem can reach download speeds of 450Mbps while Qualcomm LTE modem announced in January supports download speeds of almost 1Gbps.
Apple's decision could be explained by the necessity to use multiple suppliers, according to the same publication citing Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research. It is also possible that Intel have offered some discounts to Apple, McGregor added. A similar marketing strategy was used by Intel with tablet chips for Android devices.
According to eWeek, reports about Apple looking at Intel as a second modem supplier have been circulating for a couple of years already. But now seems that the iPhone producer is finally prepared to make the move.