While it has generally been accepted that Apple’s iPhone won’t be getting a 5G modem until the 2020 model year, a new report from Reuters says that this year’s iPhone 11 could get the higher-speed data capabilities. The report says Apple has met with Samsung, MediaTek, and current modem supplier Intel about possibly supplying the new modems.
Prior to 2016, Apple relied exclusively on Qualcomm to supply the iPhone’s wireless modems, then during 2016 and 2017 Apple split production up between Qualcomm and Intel. The 2018 iPhone flagship models exclusively feature Intel modem chips.
The information about Apple’s talks to spread its 5G modem production among various companies came during Apple supply chain executive Tony Blevins’ testimony during the ongoing trial between Qualcomm and the U.S. Federal Trade Commision (FTC) on Friday.
“The entire concept of Project Antique was to find a second supplier. No offense to (Intel) but we don’t want to be single supplier with them. We wanted both Qualcomm and (Intel) in the mix,” Blevins said. Blevins also testified Apple considered making Intel the sole supplier of modems for the Apple Watch, which added 4G connectivity in 2017 using Qualcomm chips.
Blevins said that talking with Samsung, whose Galaxy and Note devices compete against the iPhone, is “not an ideal environment” for Apple, but that Samsung is currently the largest component supplier to Apple.
Blevins did not say whether Apple had reached a decision on a 5G modem supplier or whether it would release a 5G iPhone in 2019. Citing sources, Bloomberg previously reported that Apple would not release such a phone until 2020.