Qualcomm president says ‘number one priority’ is launching Apple’s 5G iPhone

Word on the street has been for quite some time that Apple is planning to launch a 5G-equipped iPhone at some point in 2020, likely in the second half of the year to keep up with the yearly refresh routine.

And the expectation for that first 5G iPhone is that it will come equipped with a Qualcomm 5G modem inside. It certainly won’t be an Intel-branded one! And while Apple is doing its typical no comment on the matter, Qualcomm’s president, Cristiano Amon is not following along with that gameplay at the moment.

PCMag has the report on Wednesday, detailing a conversation with Amon that includes the primary focus of Qualcomm being (right now) to launch a 5G iPhone for Apple “as fast as we can”. The confirmation comes from Amon at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Tech Summit, which has been going on this week.

Priority number one of this relationship with Apple is how to launch their phone as fast as we can. That’s the priority,” he said.

The legal battle between Qualcomm and Apple led to some difficulties in development for a 5G iPhone, and, as a result, there will be some missing elements. Specifically, while the 5G iPhone will use a Qualcomm modem, it will apparently not feature Qualcomm’s RF front-end. What that is is the circuitry between the embedded components to boost signal from the various wireless carriers.

But it also comes down to launch timing. Amon makes it clear that Apple has a schedule it is sticking to, so while the legal battle didn’t help matters, it simply comes down to a time constraint, too. So Qualcomm’s just focused on getting the 5G iPhone out the door.

We re-engaged probably later than both of us would like, and I think we’ve been working together to try to get as much as possible done, and take as much possible advantage of what they’ve done before so that we can actually launch a phone on schedule with 5G.

All of this certainly makes sense, and it all points us to a destination where the later part of 2020 welcomes a 5G iPhone. What that actually looks like remains to be seen, though. Rumors have suggested that every 2020 iPhone model will feature 5G, and that certainly seems reasonable enough.

However, a recent report suggests that Apple may only launch the high-end models with both mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G support. Basically, only the high-end models will support both variants of 5G wireless connectivity, giving them both range and speed.

Meanwhile, that report suggests that the less expensive iPhone model could boast only the sub-6GHz 5G option, so it won’t have the faster speeds of mmWave connectivity.

Interestingly, looking ahead, Amon says that the deal between Qualcomm and Apple is a “multi-year” one, and not just for the next two, either, but beyond that. Of course, with the acquisition of Intel’s smartphone modem business, Apple is poised to launch its own modems for its devices at some point in the future. And, indeed, that is the expectation.

This is about as good a confirmation that we’re getting a 5G iPhone next year as we’re going to get until Apple makes the news itself.

So who is already planning to upgrade next year?