Apple-Designed iPhone Modems Could Take Until 2025, Intel Confirms Interest in Its Modem Business

The Information has published a lengthy look into Apple's seemingly deteriorating relationship with Intel in terms of iPhone modems, leading to Apple's rekindled relationship with rival chipmaker Qualcomm last month.

Intel 5G Modem
The report claims that Apple's frustrations with Intel's modem efforts began much earlier than some previous reports had indicated, and involved struggles with modems for the iPhone XS, ‌iPhone XS‌ Max, and iPhone XR, not just 5G smartphone modem development that Intel abandoned last month.

It was early 2017 and Apple was preparing a new line of iPhones to be released the next year, but the Intel modem for the devices, known as the 7560, wasn't working properly, according to two people with knowledge of the relationship. […] Intel had already overhauled the modem four times to bring it up to par with the latest Qualcomm modem. But missed deadlines and continuing technical issues with the chip were making Apple executives anxious, said one of the people.

"This would have never happened at Apple under my watch," Mr. Srouji barked at his Intel counterpart, Venkata "Murthy" Renduchintala, during a meeting on Apple's campus, according to the person, who was present at the meeting.

The size and structure of Intel's mobile division made it difficult to efficiently engineer modems, with teams struggling to work together, according to multiple current and former Intel employees and industry partners cited in the report.

In a statement provided to The Information, Intel also confirmed interest in its modem business from many companies, reportedly including Apple:

We have world-class 5G modem technology that very few companies have the IP and expertise to deliver. That's why many companies have expressed interest in acquiring our cellular modem assets since our recent announcement that we are assessing our options to realize the value we have created.

While it appears that Apple and Qualcomm's multi-year licensing and chipset supply agreement will result in Qualcomm supplying modems for the first 5G-enabled iPhones, expected to launch in 2020, multiple reports have indicated that Apple is on the path to developing its own cellular modems.

According to The Information, however, those in-house efforts appear to be farther away than initially thought. During interviews, the report claims Apple told prospective engineers that it expects to have its own modem ready by 2025, far later than the earliest considered possibility of 2021.

All in all, the report reaffirms the belief that Apple was so fed up with Intel's modem struggles that it had little to no choice but to settle its bitter legal battle with Qualcomm. That should result in Qualcomm modems in iPhones for at least a few years, at least until Apple finalizes its own chip.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
12 months ago
That is why I do not understand why some people thought Apple could easily develop a modem (like poof! magically) and deliver the best performance that somehow is able to beat Qualcomm's? This is call pure fanboy-ism
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
12 months ago
With the trillions of dollars they have, Apple is so slow.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
12 months ago
I predict Apple's 5G wireless chip will suffer the same fate as their wireless charging pad.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
12 months ago
They must be working out all of the apparent health and cancer risks associated with the 5G network... /s
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
12 months ago
makes sense that its that far off, considering Apple have entered into a 6 year agreement with Qualcomm.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
12 months ago

That is why I do not understand why some people thought Apple could easily develop a modem (like poof! magically) and deliver the best performance that somehow is able to beat Qualcomm's? This is call pure fanboy-ism

It’s certainly not easy, nor is 2025 particularly surprising to those of us who have experience in the cellular modem space. It’s quite an undertaking.

But Apple has licensed Qualcomm’s 130,000+ patent portfolio and has access to the SEPs from all other patent holders (Ericsson, Samsung, Nokia, Huawei, Norte etc.) at favorable rates. They’ll also license other patents where there is additional IP Apple wishes to incorporate, or where they discover they have inadvertently infringed.

There’s no reason Apple can’t design a baseband chip that equals or exceeds Qualcomm’s. Being located in San Diego (and willing to pay top dollar), they’ll also be able to access most of Qualcomm’s talent. But it will take quite some time, and 2025 would seem to be a decent estimate.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Acquires Weather App Dark Sky

Tuesday March 31, 2020 10:22 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple has acquired weather app Dark Sky, Dark Sky's developers announced today. Dark Sky is one of the most popular weather apps on the App Store, known for its accuracy and storm warnings. Our goal has always been to provide the world with the best weather information possible, to help as many people as we can stay dry and safe, and to do so in a way that respects your privacy. There is no ...

Zoom Accused of Misleading Users With 'End-to-End Encryption' Claims Amid Other Security Issues [Updated]

Wednesday April 1, 2020 2:47 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Zoom is facing fresh scrutiny today following a report that the videoconferencing app's encryption claims are misleading. Zoom states on its website and in its security white paper that the app supports end-to-end encryption, a term that refers to a way of protecting user content so that the company has no access to it whatsoever. However, an investigation by The Intercept reveals that...

Case for Upcoming Low-Cost iPhone Shows Up at Best Buy With Alleged April 5 Stock Date

Monday March 30, 2020 4:25 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple has a new low-cost iPhone in the works, which is supposed to be launching sometime in the first half of 2020. Given the ongoing situation in the United States and other countries, it's been unclear if the device is going to launch within the planned timeline, but there are signs that it could be coming soon. We started seeing cases for the new low-cost iPhone back in early February,...

Bloomberg: Apple's 5G iPhone Still on Schedule for Fall Launch, But Future Products Could Be Delayed

Monday March 30, 2020 2:40 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Apple's 5G iPhone is still on track to launch within the company's typical annual fall release schedule, according to a new Bloomberg report on filed on Monday. Signs are that Apple's Chinese-centric manufacturing -- of which Hon Hai is the linchpin -- is slowly getting back on track. The next iPhones with 5G wireless capabilities remain on schedule to launch in the fall, partly because mass...

Testing Brydge's New Pro+ Keyboard With Trackpad for iPad Pro

Monday March 30, 2020 2:04 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Well ahead of when Apple introduced trackpad support in iOS 13.4, Brydge announced an iPad Pro keyboard with a built-in multi-touch trackpad. We have one of Brydge's new Pro+ keyboards on hand, and thought we'd check it out to see how it works with Apple's new 2020 iPad Pro models. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The Brydge Pro+ keyboard is similar in design to...

Apple's Work on New Upcoming Products Progressing Normally as Employees Adjust to Telecommuting

Monday March 30, 2020 11:58 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple's development of upcoming products is progressing as usual despite the fact that Apple employees around the world are working from home, according to a new report today out from Bloomberg. Apple is still working on new versions of the HomePod, Apple TV, MacBook Pro, budget iPads, Apple Watch, iPhone, and iMac, all of which could be released "as early as later this year" and have been...

Apple Releases ProRes RAW Beta for Windows

Monday March 30, 2020 9:33 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple today released ProRes RAW for Windows in a beta capacity (via Mark Gurman), with the software designed to allow ProRes RAW and ProRes RAW HQ video files to be watched in compatible applications on Windows machines. According to Apple, the software will let the files be played within several Adobe apps: Adobe After Effects (Beta) Adobe Media Encocder (Beta) Adobe Premiere...

Apple Configurator 2 Updated With New Features, Including Support for Restoring Firmware on 2019 Mac Pro

Tuesday March 31, 2020 5:34 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple Configurator 2 has been updated to version 2.12 with several improvements, including support for restoring firmware on the 2019 Mac Pro. The release notes:• Added support for restoring firmware on the 2019 Mac Pro • Allow access to websites using TLS 1.0 and 1.1 • VPN: Configure Provider Designated Requirement for Custom SSL connection type • VPN: Configure network options for ...

Seemingly Unreleased Version of Logic Pro X With Live Loops Appears on Apple's Education Site [Updated]

Sunday March 29, 2020 7:23 am PDT by Hartley Charlton
Update: Apple has replaced the Logic Pro X image with an older version. Original story follows. A seemingly unreleased version of Logic Pro X has appeared on Apple's education site, as spotted by a Reddit user. The image from Apple's education products page shows a 16-inch MacBook Pro running Logic Pro X, but with a familiar interface that looks extremely similar to GarageBand's Live Loops ...

Apple's 2020 MacBook Air vs. 2020 iPad Pro

Wednesday April 1, 2020 2:45 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple in March updated both the MacBook Air and the iPad Pro, and with the iPad Pro increasingly positioned as a computer replacement, we thought we'd compare both new machines to see how they measure up and which one might be a better buy depending on user needs. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. We're comparing the base model 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the base model...