Apple reportedly wants to use own 5G modems in some of its products by 2021
The acqusition of Intel’s smartphone modem business is expected to help Apple speed up its timeline and save money in future cross-license deals.
A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that Apple plans to an internally developed 5G modem ready for use in some of its products by 2021. Prior to Intel’s exit from the 5G smartphone modem market, some of its 5G consumer products were slated to arrive in 2020.
These assets should help Apple reduce its reliance on Qualcomm gradually over the six-year chipset supply deal that both companies signed in April. Apple has already engaged Global Unichip Corp, a chip design firm to explore a modem design, but it is still in the early stages.
Even if Apple has a 5G modem ready for use by 2021, the company could phase in the modem for lower-end and older models to test its compatibility on the networks and countries which Apple has a retail presence. Apple is likely to continue using Qualcomm modems in flagship devices.
Apple’s patent portfolio on cellular standards, modem architecture and modem operation could give the company better leverage in licensing talks with other major holders of 5G patents. A patent attorney who used to work in Qualcomm’s licensing division in Asia shared that Apple’s portfolio is large enough to impact the valuations during cross-licensing deals and it is likely to save “a huge chunk of change”.