Intel Reportedly Commencing 5G Modem Production in Q2 2019 Through Engineering Products – Are Apple’s Baseband Chips One of Them?
Qualcomm has already announced that its third generation 5G modem will come embedded with its future Snapdragon SoC. Other chip manufacturers are struggling meanwhile. Apple’s chip supplier Intel gave an update about its progress on 5G modem and network chips during the Mobile World Congress. The company said it’s trying to make its own radio front end module to help the XMM 8160 modem communicate with 5G millimeter wave networks. According to a new report, Intel will commence engineering projects to kick start the mass production of 5G modem chips this year.
Whether Intel Makes 5G Modem Chips in Time for 2019 iPhones or Not, Apple Might Not Jump the 5G Bandwagon This Year
The Taiwanese sources say that the chipmaker, along with its partners, will start the volume production of 5G modem chips in the second quarter of 2019. Previously, it was reported that Apple is considering alternatives such as Samsung and MediaTek to get 5G modem chips for its iPhones. Since the company isn’t on good terms with Qualcomm, the company isn’t really an option, even though analysts are optimistic on both entities burying the hatchet in the future.
This explains why Intel is in a hurry to get the ball rolling as otherwise, it might lose one of its most lucrative clients. However, it could take a year more before the company mass produces 5G modem chips due to factors such as heterogeneous integration, design complexities, and final test runs.
The chipmaker is expected to continue providing modem chips for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 for the time being as the demand for the older phones continues to remain strong. On the other hand, Taiwanese market watchers are not so positive about the market performance of this year’s iPhones. Previous reports indicate that the 2019 iPhones will be an incremental upgrade of their predecessors and in a bearish market, it might not be sufficient to get people to switch to the newer models.
Even if Intel does start producing 5G chips this year, 2019 iPhones might not be 5G ready as Apple isn’t really an early adopter of new technologies and it waits for them to mature and get cheaper before implementing them in its phones. Whether this decision will have an impact on iPhone sales or not, we’ll find out in the future.