During their quarterly earnings conference call yesterday, Intel CEO Bob Swan indicated that the company will be supplying 4G modems to smartphone manufactures and alluded to the upcoming 2019 iPhone.
“Our expectation is we will continue to deliver on the 4G modem throughout the course of this year, including the second iteration of that product coming in the fall back to school season,” Swan said, reportedly referring to Apple’s smartphone.Intel CEO Bob Swan
Since the Apple-Qualcomm settlement, which included a six-year agreement for Apple to use Qualcomm’s modems and chipsets, the debate has been raging if Intel would have anything to do with the 2019 iPhone. Based on Mr. Swan’s comments, it would seem the answer is yes. From a timing perspective, this makes sense. Apple already has 3D printed “dummies” of the next generation iPhone and from a product design perspective, it likely very close to being complete if not already. This is basic product management requirements if the company wants to launch the 2019 iPhone on time in September or October.
Part of that process therefore was to build the internals of the 2019 iPhone around the Intel 4G modems and other chipsets. Even with the Qualcomm agreement, Apple is likely in a position where they cannot switch completely from Intel to Qualcomm. It is possible, once things go to production, that a 2019 iPhone with Qualcomm modems could come into play so Apple can split their modem needs between them and Intel.
As previously reported, Intel announced they were pulling out of the smartphone 5G modem business shortly after the Apple-Qualcomm agreement was announced. Intel had been testing a 5G modem for Apple, the XMM 8160. However, rumors have suggested that Apple has been unhappy with the progress that Intel has made on the modem. Most of these issues have reportedly been around power consumption and heat sink issues. These rumors, not confirmed, have given Apple pause on if Intel was up to the task.