MediaTek may replace Intel as 5G iPhone modem supplier

iPhone X Back

Last we heard, Intel and Apple were collaborating to make 5G modems for a future iPhone. However, things might not be as rosy as they seem between the two, with MediaTek emerging as a potential rival for the iPhone maker’s affections.

The first sign of trouble was sighted a few days ago when Bloomberg reported that Apple might give Intel the boot in favor of MediaTek. Now a DigiTimes article hints that this might be a possibility, but cautions that Apple hasn’t committed to anything yet.

MediaTek 5G Modem

It seems Apple won’t make a final decision until it reaches a consensus on topics like product roadmap, collaborative efforts, and technology development with MediaTek. Right now, the chip maker is apparently close to clinching a deal to make customized Wi-Fi chips for the HomePod.

MediaTek unveiled the Helio M70, its 5G modem chipset, at Computex Taipei 2018 in June. It can transmit data at speeds of up to 5Gbps when it’s connected to a 5G network. It’s being manufactured using the 7nm process at the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) in order to keep power consumption down.

The Helio M70 is scheduled to ship out in 2019, 6 months ahead of its original timeline. Sources say MediaTek is doing this in order to enhance its presence in the 5G market and win orders from Apple. It’s even set up an independent ASIC (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit) business to step up its efforts to make customized chips for individual clients.

Also Read: Apple, Qualcomm fight over ban on US iPhone imports

As it stands now, Apple gets half its modems from Qualcomm and half from Intel. It wants to reduce its reliance on Qualcomm even further since the companies are embroiled in multiple lawsuits around the world.

The trouble with Intel is that the iPhones running on its modems aren’t as fast as Qualcomm’s. Things might be different this year with the brand’s new XMM 7560 chipset, but we’ll have to wait and see how it performs after this year’s handsets reach consumers.