For Qualcomm, its current priority is to convince Apple to launch a 5G-enabled iPhone as soon as possible. In an interview with PC Mag, Qualcomm’s president Cristiano Amon said the company is closely working with the Cupertino giant to bring a 5G iPhone to the market on time. The comments were made during Qualcomm’s annual Snapdragon Summit in Maui, Hawaii.
“Priority number one of this relationship with Apple is how to launch their phone as fast as we can. That’s the priority,” he said. Apple is expected to launch its first 5G iPhone towards the end of 2020, and the modem inside the device will be powered by Qualcomm. In fact, it is said that Apple could launch as many as four iPhones with 5G support next year. Though it is unknown whether all iPhones support both mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G technology. Outside the US, especially in China, sub-6GHz tech, is more common.
While Apple and Qualcomm have apparently signed a multi-year licensing deal to use the Snapdragon modem, but it won’t use Qualcomm components in the final device. Apple has relied on various manufacturers to make its radio components in the past, and the company is likely going to do the same. That would mean Apple is going to use its own custom technology and components alongside Qualcomm’s modems in its 2020 iPhone lineup.
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Earlier this year, Apple and Qualcomm settled a two-year-old dispute over patent licensing. The Tim Cook-led company reportedly paid Qualcomm between $5 billion and $6 billion to settle the litigation between the two companies.
Right now, Qualcomm seems to be involved with Apple’s first 5G iPhone, thanks to a six-year license agreement between the two companies. But things could change when Apple starts using its own in-house designed modem in the 2021 iPhone lineup. Apple recently completed its acquisition of Intel’s modem business for which it paid $1 billion. Under the deal, Apple will get access to 2,200 Intel employees, along with intellectual property, equipment and leases. The move to acquire Intel’s modem business will help Apple to develop its own modems and reduce its reliance on companies like Qualcomm.