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Apple’s 2018 iPhones will use Intel modems, Qualcomm seemingly confirms



iPhone XHollis Johnson

  • Qualcomm’s CFO said that the next release of iPhones will use modems from its competitor, not Qualcomm modems.
  • Qualcomm and Apple are embroiled in a bitter legal fight over intellectual property licensing.
  • It’s likely a big win for Intel, which only started selling modems to Apple in 2016. 

Qualcomm’s CFO, George Davis, just seemingly confirmed a major detail about this year’s iPhones during an earnings conference call on Wednesday. 

The iPhones coming out this fall are not going to use Qualcomm modems — leaving only one real company that could provide the chip design: Intel. 

“We believe Apple intends to solely use our competitor’s modems rather than our modems in its next iPhone release. We will continue to provide modems for Apple legacy devices,” Davis said, via Reuters’ Stephen Nellis

For years, Apple solely relied on Qualcomm to provide the modem for its iPhones to connect to high-speed cellular networks. But Intel was able to provide some modems to Apple starting in 2016, when Intel chips were included in some iPhone 7 models. 

Since then, Apple’s relationship with Qualcomm has become increasingly contentious, as the two sides have fought over intellectual property licensing — the core of Qualcomm’s business model. Qualcomm sought an import ban on any iPhones that use Intel chips, for example. 

And there’s increasing evidence that Apple wants to design its own chip for still-in-construction next-generation networks, often called “5G,” potentially cutting both Intel and Qualcomm out of the iPhone in the upcoming years.

Qualcomm didn’t rule out working with Apple in the future. “If the opportunity presents itself, I think we will be a supplier of Apple,” Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon said on Wednesday. 

Apple is expected to launch new iPhones this September. Rumors from analysts and media have suggested Apple is planning to launch three new models: An update to the iPhone X, a super-sized iPhone X, and a lower-cost model with a less advanced display. 

Apple didn’t immediately respond to an email. Intel’s stock price was flat in after-hours trading. 

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