Intel modems may connect the first 5G iPhone

The likes of Intel and Qualcomm may well be locked in a battle over next-gen communications chips, which will help phones connect to futuristic 5G networks in the future. And the biggest of those contracts, at least when it comes to consumer devices, has to be the iPhone. Well, it looks like Intel may have won that contract; a report from Fast Company says that Apple will go ahead with using Intel modems for the first 5G iPhone, set to launch in 2020.

The report somewhat puts to rest rumors that suggested Apple would be ditching Intel for 5G modems in the 2020 iPhone. In June, Calcalist reported that Apple had notified Intel that it would not be using Intel modems, however, the outlet soon corrected its story to say that Apple wouldn’t use Intel Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips — not that it wouldn’t use Intel 5G modems.

Still, even if Apple isn’t using Intel Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips, one thing is for sure, Apple wants to reduce its dependency on other companies. Apple’s legal battles with Qualcomm have been well documented over the past few years, and they’re likely to continue, leaving only two options: Stick with Intel or make its own 5G modems. For now, it seems as though the company has chosen the former.

The news has to be good for Intel. In June, Bloomberg reported that Apple was looking to move away from Intel chips, instead turning to MediaTek for its communications components. On top of that, there have been plenty of reports indicating that Apple was looking to move away from using Intel processors altogether by 2020. Right now, it looks like those talks may have been as a plan B, in case the company couldn’t come to an agreement with Intel.

When it comes to specific modem models, the Fast Company report suggests that the 2020 iPhone will use Intel’s 8161 chip, which will be fabricated with the 10-nanometer process. The 8161 hasn’t actually been formally announced yet — we know that Intel is testing a precursor to the chip, called the 8060, and Fast Company reports that the 8060 will be the chip that Apple uses to prototype the 2020 iPhone.

No matter what direction Apple ends up going, pretty much all reports hint at one thing, Apple will be releasing its first 5G iPhone in 2020. By that time, most U.S. carriers should have rolled out at least early versions of their 5G networks, making it a perfect time for a 5G iPhone.

Updated on November 2, 2018: Apple has reportedly chosen Intel to supply 5G modems for 2020 iPhone.

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