Fast Company reports Apple will source 70% of the LTE modem chips it will need for its 2018 iPhone lineup from Intel. The report indicates current modem supplier Qualcomm will continue to make LTE chips for the new handsets, producing 30% of the modem supply.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo previously suggested Intel might be Apple’s sole supplier for LTE modems in 2018 given Apple’s ongoing and increasingly tense legal battle with Qualcomm, while The Wall Street Journal said Apple might use Mediatek and Intel chips to avoid working with Qualcomm, but Fast Company says that’s not the case.
2018 will be the first year that Intel will fabricate its own chips using its 14-nanometer process. Apple plans to continue to use Qualcomm’s chips in 2018, just in case Intel can’t supply enough chips.
Given that technological transition, Apple is apparently waiting to see how well Intel fulfills this year’s order. If Intel underdelivers, Qualcomm will make up the balance on top of the 30% it’s already planning to provide. There’s also a chance that if Intel can produce enough chips on time and on budget it could get more than the planned 70%, our source says.
Fast Company’s source tells them that currently, Intel modem chip yield rates are currently at about 50%, throwing away one chip for every one they keep. However, the company’s engineers are confident they can get the yield rates up to where they need to be before production ramps up in early summer.
If Intel gets production issues worked out for the LTE modem chip, Apple is expected to transition to solely using Intel modem chips in its 2019 iPhone lineup.
Apple’s transition to Intel modem chips comes on the heels of Apple’s bitter legal fight with Qualcomm, who until 2016 had been the sole supplier for the iPhone’s modem chips.