Qualcomm X20

The upcoming 2018 iPhone lineup might only use Intel-based modems. This news comes from Qualcomm’s financial chief who confirmed that his company’s modems wouldn’t be included in this year’s lineup. If correct, this would represent a significant change on Apple’s part. 

During an earnings call with analysts this week, Qualcomm’s George David noted, “We believe Apple intends to solely use our competitor’s modems rather than our modems in its next iPhone release.” Meanwhile, Cristiano Amon, the head of Qualcomm’s chip business, said that this doesn’t mean Qualcomm has lost Apple’s business forever, but for now, yes.

Apple and Qualcomm remain engaged in an ongoing legal battle over licensing, which could be one of the reasons for Cupertino’s move. Interestingly, just last month it was reported that Qualcomm modems would still be used in some 2018 iPhone models. At the time, Nikkei said Apple hoped to switch to Intel modems this year, but “quality issues” had made that impossible. Because of this, both companies were expected to produce modems for the upcoming handsets.

Based on the latest news, some are now questioning whether switching to Intel was a good move on Apple’s part. Shrout Research analyst Ryan Shrout, for example, recently tweeted, “Qualcomm will be the best performing 4G and 5G modem for a LONG TIME so now its [sic] time for Android makers, and QC, and cellular carriers, to start making noise on this.”

Earlier this week, Qualcomm celebrated the news that recently announced Ookla download speed tests that pit its Snapdragon 845 against the Intel XMM 7480. The former is found on high-end Android phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S9, while the latter is on the Apple iPhone X, among other devices.

We almost certainly won’t really know who is providing Apple with modems for this year’s iPhone lineup until they are released this fall. Until then, we can only guess.

There’s no reason not to believe Qualcomm when it says it’s been pushed out the door for the upcoming iPhone cycle. That still doesn’t mean the new iPhones will have inferior modems. Independent tests released later this year will confirm this news one way or another.

As a reminder, Apple’s expected to launch three new iPhones this fall including a second-generation OLED iPhone X, all-new OLED “iPhone X Plus,” and an LCD model.

Are you hesitant about buying a 2018 iPhone because of this news? Leave your comments below.