Apple might finally ditch Qualcomm, the supplier of LTE modems in the iPhone, after getting locked into legal disputes over patent royalties last year.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims, according to MacRumors, that Intel might be the exclusive supplier of modems for all the new iPhones launching later this year.
Why should you care? Because it could mean the new iPhones might have potentially slower data transfer speeds.
First a quick history lesson. Up until the iPhone 7, Qualcomm was the exclusive supplier for “baseband modem” chips for the iPhone.
When the iPhone 7 launched, it was discovered that some devices came with Intel modems and some came with Qualcomm.
The difference was in the download speed. Though the iPhones with Qualcomm modems were capable of much faster theoretical download speeds, Apple throttled them down in order to keep pace with iPhones with Intel’s modems.
A PCMag report found similar results for the iPhone X, with Qualcomm-equipped iPhones overperforming ones with Intel chips.
In a nutshell: Qualcomm modems are better because they offer faster download speeds. You want an iPhone with a Qualcomm modem.
As good as Intel modems are, Qualcomm’s are better. But if Apple only uses Intel modems, all iPhone users are going to suffer. Instead of getting the best modem available with the fastest download speed, Apple will make us all settle for second best.
Don’t get me wrong, this year’s new iPhones are expected to be fast — Kuo’s predicting new iPhones will finally make the leap to 4×4 MIMO antennas as opposed to the current 2×2 MIMO — but they might not be as fast as they could be.