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5G-iPhones: Intel’s smartphone modem division now belongs to Apple

Last updated on March 9, 2021

Apple now has its own 5G forge. (Photo: dpa)

02.12.2019, 19:29 clock

In a compulsory release Intel announces that the sale of the smartphone modem division with approximately 2,200 coworkers at Apple is completely settled.

At the end of July 2019 Apple had announced as expected the purchase of the modem division of the chip manufacturer Intel. The deal was worth one billion US dollars and included not only the approximately 2,200 affected employees, many of them in Germany, but also the locations and above all the technology licenses.

Apple makes itself independent of Qualcomm

Especially the latter asset should have fueled Apple’s interest. After all, the group had already several litigation with its existing supplier Qualcomm supplied. The Intel deal should promote independence.

Apple is also known for having strategically important hardware in-house. With the upcoming 5G networks, modems are likely to belong at the latest to these strategically important components.

The 5G modems of the 2020 iPhones are probably supplied by Qualcomm. Intel’s technology is more of a long-term perspective.

Intel is cooperating with Mediatek and wants to bring 5G notebook modems

As part of the deal, Intel retained the right to develop mobile modems for computers, autonomous cars, or Internet of Things (IoT) networked devices. Intel has now acted on this reservation and announced an extensive cooperation with the Taiwanese chip developer Mediatek. The first results of this collaboration are to be installed in early 2021 in then current notebooks of initially HP and Dell.

Timetables for own 5G modems shift

Originally Intel wanted end of 2019 5G chips for notebooks on the market. Intel discontinued this plan when it was revealed that Apple had agreed with Qualcomm for a six-year period on the further decline of its 5G chips. In the absence of a positive future, Intel boss Bob Swan announced that he would withdraw completely from the 5G modem business. That, in turn, woke Apple’s interest in a takeover.

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Ultimately, however, remains unclear whether Intel withdrew because of the agreement of Apple and Qualcomm from the development of mobile 5G modems because the chip developer threatened to lose the important customer Apple, or whether Apple inevitably had to make peace with Qualcomm, because the iPhone group already knew that there would be no 5G chips from Intel.