On Wednesday, chipmaker Qualcomm said Apple likely won’t use its modems for the next iPhone.
“We believe Apple intends to solely use or competitor’s modems rather than our modems in its next iPhone release,” said the company’s chief financial officer, George Davis, during the company’s Q3 2018 earnings call. Davis didn’t mention Intel by name, but Intel is currently the only other company that sells LTE modems to Apple.
Big news from @Qualcomm call: "We believe @Apple intends to solely use our competitor's modems rather than our modems in its next iPhone release," CFO says. Wow. That competitor is @Intel
— Shara Tibken (@sharatibken) July 25, 2018
If Apple does, in fact, single source the next iPhone’s modem from Intel, it will be a dramatic move for the company. Even when one considers that Apple and Qualcomm are engaged in a messy legal feud, this is almost unprecedented for Apple; the tech giant typically attempts to dual source all of the major components that go into its devices so that it can leverage its suppliers against one another.
An example of this is the iPhone X’s OLED display. Apple has gone to great lengths to reduce its dependence on Samsung, currently the only company manufactures smartphone-sized OLED displays to Apple’s quality and scale requirements, reportedly investing millions into LG Display.
From a consumer standpoint, there’s a good chance any iPhone with an Intel-based modem won’t be as fast as Android current flagship crop when it comes to network performance. Even when throttled by Apple, previous generation iPhones with Qualcomm-based modems have outperformed their Intel-based counterparts, according to lab tests conducted by firms like Cellular Insights.
Moreover, using data from Ookla, Qualcomm published a report this week that said Snapdragon 845-based Android smartphone outperformed Intel-based iPhones in network speed tests, delivering faster download and upload speeds, as well as lower latency. It’s likely Qualcomm published its Ookla report in an attempt to preempt Wednesday’s news.