Apple is currently running behind on the 5G game. We are already expecting a number of Android devices to launch with 5G support sometime this year, but Apple is not expected to release a 5G iPhone by 2020.
But here is the thing: even the 2020 iPhone may not have 5G support Apple's supplier of the 5G modem, Intel, is reportedly struggling to get the modem designed in time. According to a report from Fast Company, Intel reportedly missed a number of deadlines for the development of its XMM 8160 5G modem, causing Apple to question the company's reliability.
Apple expects Intel to deliver sample parts of the 5G modem by the start of summer of this year, with a finished modem design by early 2020. And with Intel already introducing three different managers for the project, things are going to be tricky. Fast company notes that Apple's deal with Intel has a lot of profit for the chip maker, and Intel has reportedly been in conflict with Apple's business internally.
If Intel isn't able to ship the modems in time for Apple to add to the 2020 iPhones, we can not see a 5G iPhone by 2021. The company says it is still committed to shipping its 5G modem by 2020, however.
Apple really doesn't want to rely on Intel or anyone else, however. Especially with the ongoing conflicts with Qualcomm, the company is looking into designing its own modems for future iPhones. It has hired up to 2000 engineers, including engineers from both Intel and Qualcomm, to work on its own modems. The new team will probably design Apple's own modems, and it could then use Samsung to actually make the modems. That still should be ready in time for the 2020 iPhones, however.
Interestingly, Fast Company says "it would make the most business sense" for Apple to go back to Qualcomm for the 5G modems. And that's probably not possible because of the company's legal battle against Qualcomm.
So until its own modems are ready, Apple is going to have to rely on Intel. And whether Intel will have its 5G modem ready in time for the 2020 iPhone remains a big mystery. With 5G iPhone released in time, the company really falls behind the fact that some 5G phones are already launching this year.
Tagged with 5G, 5G iPhone, Apple, Intel, iPhone