iPhone modem supplier Qualcomm is countersuing Apple in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, saying the Cupertino company could not have “built the incredible iPhone franchise” without its fundamental cellular technologies. The chip maker accused Apple of contributing “virtually nothing” to the development of core cellular technologies.
Qualcomm and Apple are currently embroiled in a legal spat involving excessive royalties, casting serious doubt on the possibility of a Qualcomm-made LTE modem in a future iPhone. Today, Qualcomm teased a brand new Snapdragon X20 LTE chip, its second-gen Gigabit LTE modem.
It’s capable of fiber-like LTE Category 18 downloads of up to 1.2 gigabits per second, or one-fifth faster than the previous X16 chip. Upload speeds go up to a theoretical maximum of 150 megabits per second. It’s expected to ship in the first half of 2018.
Only time will tell if Apple plans on dual-sourcing cellular modems from both Qualcomm and Intel, in which case 2018 iPhones could theoretically support faster-than-Gigabit-LTE downlink speeds of up to 150 megabytes per second.
Apple on Friday announced it’s suing iPhone modem supplier Qualcomm, which owns many wireless patents, “after years of disagreement over what constitutes a fair and reasonable royalty”. The suit argues Qualcomm withheld nearly $1 billion in payments it owes to Apple as retaliation because Apple cooperated with the Korea Fair Trade Commission. Last month, Korean regulators slapped Qualcomm with a $850 million fine over its patent-licensing practices.
Apple’s suit, filed in federal district court in the Southern District of California, accuses Qualcomm of charging royalties for technologies “they have nothing to do with.” Responding to the complaint, Qualcomm called Apple’s claims groundless and said they “misrepresented facts”.
Yesterday, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged Qualcomm with monopolizing baseband modems used in smartphones, basically saying the company bribed Apple into not making a WiMAX iPhone in exchange for better royalties. The chip maker in a subsequent press release denied any wrongdoing, saying the FTC doesn’t really understand how the mobile industry works.
Now we know why Apple has made the controversial decision to dual-source baseband modem chips for iPhone 7 from both Intel and Qualcomm. Tuesday, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged Qualcomm with monopolizing baseband modems used in smartphones, saying the firm’s leveraged its position to force Apple to use its baseband chips in exchange for lower patent royalties.
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Bloomberg’s Alex Sherman and Ian King reported yesterday that fabless chip designer and Apple supplier Qualcomm could be buying NXP Semiconductors, a global semiconductor and analog circuitry manufacturer headquartered in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
NXP employs approximately 45,000 people in more than 35 countries and provides chips that give Apple devices features like power-efficient motion tracking and NFC for Apple Pay.
Supply chain whispers recently claimed that a significant portion of LTE cellular modems for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus would be built by Intel instead of Qualcomm and now Bloomberg is reporting that Intel modems will be actually reserved for AT&T iPhone 7 models.
Qualcomm is expected to remain Apple’s modem provider for Verizon and China-bound iPhone 7 handsets. Qualcomm’s boss had said he expected a major customer to diversify its supplier base.
Shares of Qualcomm have dropped two percent after CEO Steve Mollenkopf told analysts on an earnings call Wednesday that it may lose some of its “biggest customers” as they are going with a “second source,” Bloomberg reported.
The fabless chip maker’s been Apple’s exclusive supplier of LTE modems for over three years now.
That’s about to change soon: Mollenkopf is now “assuming” that a major customer will give orders to a rival, indicating a potential loss of business for the company. Analysts said they think the customer is Apple and the rival is Intel.
A claimed logic board that recently leaked strongly indicated that Apple’s upcoming ‘iPhone 6s’ and ‘iPhone 6s Plus’ smartphone upgrades will use an improved Qualcomm modem chip, part of its ‘Gobi’ modem platform, with 2x faster LTE download speeds at 300Mbps.
But Apple could be looking to diversify its suppliers two years from now by adding Intel to its supply chain for baseband modems, if sources who spoke with DigiTimes are to be trusted.