In a huge blow for Intel, Apple has apparently rejected the chip maker’s 5G modems for the 2020 iPhone. Early reports had indicated that the two were collaborating on the chipset, but it looks like that camaraderie is at an end now.
As per internal company communications obtained by Calcalist, Apple told Intel it wouldn’t be using its modem, codenamed Sunny Peak, in the 2020 iPhone. Executives have decided to halt development of the component as a result. They’re even redirecting the team which was working on the product to other efforts.
Why Apple Dropped Intel
Intel supposedly considered Apple as its key mobile customer for the 5G Sunny Peak modem. It had expected the iPhone maker to be the main volume driver for the part. In that light, it’s not a surprise the product has been dropped for now since there probably aren’t a lot of buyers for it.
The executives didn’t really explain why Apple rejected Intel, just saying that it was the result of many factors. One aspect might have been the introduction of a new Wi-Fi standard, WiGig (802.11ad). This could create shake-ups in any mobile product.
Apple is definitely interested in 5G technology, according to the internal documents. It’s said to be facing a massive effort to launch 5G in its handsets. With that in mind, Intel is hoping to improve Sunny Peak so it can slide its way into the 2022 iPhone.
With Intel out of the picture, MediaTek is now free to swoop in and take up Apple’s orders for a 5G modem. Bloomberg recently reported as much and DigiTimes backed up the rumor. MediaTek unveiled its own 5G modem, the Helio M70, in June and is gunning for it to appear in iPhones.
For now, both Qualcomm and Intel supply modems to the iPhone lineup. The former’s product is said to be faster than the latter’s, but Apple’s ongoing fight with Qualcomm probably forced it to turn to Intel.