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Intel 5G modem chips won’t be available until 2020, could delay 5G iPhone

If you’re waiting impatiently for the release of phones with 5G enabled, you’re going to have to sit tight for a while longer. While 5G is potentially much faster than previous-generation technologies, making streaming video or uploading content from your phone more convenient and less time-consuming, there aren’t a whole lot of 5G networks available in the U.S. just yet. Even so, plenty of manufacturers have announced their plans to launch a 5G phone in the near future.

The wait comes because chip manufacturer Intel announced this week that their 5G modem chips will not be available in cell phones until 2020. This could be a particular a problem for Apple, which uses Intel chips in itsdevices and had planned to launch the next-generation iPhone with 5G capabilities in 2020.

At an Intel media event in Palo Alto, California, executive Sandra Rivera said that Intel is not expecting to have consumer “products in the market” until 2020, according to Reuters. It’s not clear whether this means that the Intel 5G chips won’t be made available to manufacturers before 2020, or whether it simply means that Intel will make the chips available but expects that manufacturers won’t be able to release a device using the chip before this time.

To deal with this issue, Apple has reportedly been in talks to source 5G modem chips from Samsung and MediaTek, but these discussion haven’t led to an agreement yet. If it is unable to source alternative 5G chips, then Apple’s 5G release could be up to a year behind its competitors, which is no good for Apple’s cutting-edge image.

Intel Chief Executive Bob Swan told Reuters that the company intended to pursue other lines of business, like selling modems to the auto industry or adding its chips to other devices, along with networking gear. Intel is hoping to avoid the patent licensing issue that has led to legal cases between Apple and Qualcomm, Intel’s rival. “Royalty streams that are charged against the cost of the entire device, that’s a model that, as you know, has caused quite a bit of friction in the market,” Swan said. “Friction for others is opportunity for us.”

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Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
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