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Is Intel selling knowhow to Apple so it can develop its own 5G modem?

Apple seems to be talking to Intel with a view to buying a chunk of its smartphone modem business – the bit that worked on the 5G modem.

The portion in question appears to be the former Infineon teams based in Germany – Intel paid $1.4 billion for that unit in 2011. These were the teams that were reportedly working on Intel’s 5G modem which was cancelled following months of rumours that it wasn’t working properly. 

That’s interesting because Intel wasn’t being quick enough to develop a 5G modem for smartphones – so Apple dumped Intel in April and ended its legal proceedings with Qualcomm so it could use Qualcomm’s already-launched 5G modems in a forthcoming iPhone.

To make things even more confusing, Intel continues to supply Apple with 4G modems for its existing smartphones. 

However, as with other technologies like mobile graphics and CPUs, it’s clear that Apple will want to build its own tech, hence the potential acquisition. Indeed, The Information notes that some former Intel/Infineon workers had already moved to work for Apple. 

The 5G iPhone is thought to be slated for 2020 – we believe Apple won’t bring out the tech this September but will instead wait until a later date when 5G is more widespread. There’s also the argument that Apple wouldn’t have had time to incorporate the Qualcomm tech by this September. 

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