Apple’s 5G iPhone Plans Could Be Delayed by Intel

Posted on April 4, 2019 by Mehedi Hassan in Apple, iOS with 17 Comments

Apple is currently running behind on the 5G game. We are already expecting a number of Android devices to launch with 5G support sometime this year, but Apple isn’t expected to release a 5G iPhone till 2020.

But here is the thing: even the 2020 iPhone may not have 5G support.

Apple’s supplier of the 5G modem, Intel, is reportedly struggling to get the modem designed in time. According to a report from Fast Company, Intel has reportedly missed a number of deadlines for the development of its XMM 8160 5G modem, causing Apple to question the company’s reliability.

Apple expects Intel to deliver sample parts of the 5G modem by the start of summer of this year, with a finished modem design by early 2020. And with Intel already introducing three different managers for the project, things are going to be tricky. Fast Company notes that Apple’s deal with Intel doesn’t come with a lot of profit for the chip maker, and Intel has reportedly been conflicted over Apple’s business internally.

If Intel isn’t able to ship the modems in time for Apple to add it into the 2020 iPhones, we may not see a 5G iPhone till 2021. The company says it is still committed to shipping its 5G modem in 2020, however.

Apple really doesn’t want to rely on Intel or anyone else, however. Especially with the ongoing conflicts with Qualcomm, the company is looking into designing its own modems for future iPhones. It has reportedly hired up to 2000 engineers, including engineers from both Intel and Qualcomm, to work on its own modems. The new team will reportedly design Apple’s own modems, and it could then use Samsung to actually make the modems. That still won’t be ready in time for the 2020 iPhones, however.

Interestingly, Fast Company says “it would make the most business sense” for Apple to go back to Qualcomm for the 5G modems. And that probably is not possible because of the company’s legal battle against Qualcomm.

So until its own modems are ready, Apple is going to have to rely on Intel. And whether Intel will have its 5G modem ready in time for the 2020 iPhone remains a big mystery. If Apple is unable to get a 5G iPhone out in time, the company could really fall behind considering the fact that some 5G phones are already launching this year.

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Comments (17)

17 responses to “Apple’s 5G iPhone Plans Could Be Delayed by Intel”

  1. wocowboy

    Oh yes, Apple is definitely behind on 5G. Carriers have installed nationwide 5G service in every city and town in the US with gigabit data available everywhere, along every US interstate highway, US highway, state highway, and local/county roads, easily eclipsing anything 4G LTE was able to deliver and where it could be delivered. The service is available on every single Android model phone sold in the US while Apple has nothing. Cue the "Apple is doomed" YouTube videos from every billionaire tech YouTuber.


    Of course, none of the above is actually true, none of the carriers have deployed 5G to any sort of "great extent" yet. AT&T has it in very small sections of a few cities, Verizon has it in very small sections of 2, and that's pretty much it according to what I have read. Only one cellphone model has been released that can access a 5G signal, from Motorola. Samsung has announced one 5G capable phone, but did not announce a price or availability. A couple other manufacturers have done the same. All vaporware at this point. And it will be many many years before 5G will be actually useful in between the major urban centers in the US, if it ever is in those places, putting the hype of utilizing 5G in self-driving cars for those cross-country roadtrips on full display as the pipe-dreams that they are. So Apple is not behind by any stretch of the imagination, and neither is any other phone maker.


    As far as Apple making their own chips or buying them from Intel, it really does not matter either way, as Qualcomm has a monopoly on cellular radio patents, they own them all, so they will have to be paid whether it is Apple or Intel or Samsung, or whoever who makes the actual chips. That is the problem in the cellular industry and is why Qualcomm is being sued for FRAND by everyone, the US government, the EU, other countries, Apple, you name it.

    • jchampeau

      In reply to wocowboy:

      I read the first few sentences of your post and had the very American "wtf are you talking about!?!" response. And then picked up on the sarcasm. You had me going there for a minute. ;)


      Another thought: even if a magic 5G switch were flipped overnight and we all woke up to gigabit Internet in our pockets this morning, there's a limit to what we can actually do with it from a phone. We aren't going to all cancel our cable and DSL subscriptions at home, we aren't going to start downloading ALL of the Netflix original content for offline viewing, etc. Generally speaking, I think the real world difference between the 44.8 Mbps speed I get at this very moment with AT&T on my iPhone and gigabit on the same phone would be somewhere between minimal and unnoticeable. Of course someone out there has a use case where it would make a huge difference, but most people don't.

      • wocowboy

        In reply to jchampeau:

        Thanks :) You are right, a cellphone is perfectly usable with a 40+ Mbps data service available on a reliable basis. Personally, I have no need for a 4k or 8k screen on a cellphone and believe those who claim that those resolution screens are absolutely necessary for a "good experience". The reality is that most people cannot see that sort of resolution or tell one from the other when asked. Not to mention that having an 8k screen on a cellphone would be a HUGE battery drain, which is why all these Android devices have included in their 80-page deep settings apps a place to reduce that resolution and comic-book color scheme to less than its full capability so your battery does not die by noon. But I digress......5G will become a thing, hopefully in my lifetime but I don't live in any of the Top 25 urban areas of the US, so I really have serious doubts that it will ever come here, but I hope to be pleasantly surprised.

      • starkover

        In reply to jchampeau:

        I agree that the 5G for a phone is not that life changing. But consider a multi gig hotspot for other devices.


        Also consider 5G connections directly to homes and buisnesses, Cheaper to buld out than fiber. As well as cars and other mobile uses.


        I agree we are a long way out from being that pervasive, but still.



    • melinau

      In reply to wocowboy:

      You're right about 5G, but the real point isn't that lacking 5G will pose much of a problem for users, the point is that Apple has screwed-up securing a supply of 5G modems, where even minnows like OnePlus have prototype 'phones already.


      In my mind this is symptomatic of the complacent & rather narcissistic vibe which Apple exudes. Like many of Apple's recent products, the failure to be on the 5G bandwagon from day 1 shows a lack of both commercial & technical leadership. Apple has rarely innovated, but has historically (especially with Jobs) caught the zeitgeist. It doesn't matter that few people will have access to 5G before 2021, or much later. What matters is that they want to feel hip & 'with it' [sic], by having leading-edge technology, especially important as the customer base ages.

  2. gvan

    is anyone worried about the health side effects of 5g radiation? Delays in the rollout of 5g are a good thing!

  3. MikeGalos

    And so much for Tim Cook's reputation.


    We always hear, "Well, he's no Steve Jobs but he's a genius at supply chain management". Apparently that's not so true since the supply chain for the parts needed for a major competitive feature is failing with no backup suppliers in place.


  4. dontbe evil

    don't worry, when apple will INVENT (always later to the party) the 5g... will be the best 5g evaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  5. bill_russell

    I'm siding with Qualcomm on this, and I was initially ready to actually side with Apple until I started digging deeper on the situation.

    I admit I would rather enjoy seeing Apple try to develop their own modems and have the effort fail like the powermat.

  6. Daekar

    Part of me would be amused to yell from the rooftops how this is the demise of the iPhone, but I don't think it matters a darn yet. It might matter in the 2021 iPhone.

  7. glenn8878

    Hmmm. I may need to buy Android phone next. Apple is making me regret buying the iPhone. I can no longer afford a top of the line iPhone X Max. If I have to buy the iPhone XR, then maybe I should consider a full featured Android phone with 5G using a Qualcomm modem that Apple so detests and is too cheap to buy.

  8. irfaanwahid

    Not too worried. I guess 5G is not becoming widely available till mid or end of 2020.

  9. Stooks

    After my last update on my iPhone X I already have 5G!!!!!


    5G is a joke.

  10. j_c

    If you are playing the MSM cut and paste, fill in the blank drinking game we have:


    • Intel is behind on X
    • Apple is potentially going to miss out on the next big Y that doesn’t exist yet.
    • This might just finally kill the iPhone.
    • Did you know Qualcomm and Apple are in a legal battle?
    • This Z is the next big thing that will change everything. No really. It is. We swear this time, the world will be changed.


    Drink up.

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