The latest research note from KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, as obtained and reported on by MacRumors and 9to5Mac, indicates that Apple’s next iteration of the iPhone will have Intel as its sole supplier of cellular modems. This would eliminate Apple’s longstanding reliance on Qualcomm modems for the iPhone, and it’s likely to escalate tensions in the ongoing dispute between Apple and Qualcomm. One of the lawsuits between the two companies, launched by Qualcomm, alleges that Apple improperly shared proprietary code with Intel, and Kuo’s present expectations would align with this idea of Apple and Intel being extremely fond of one another.
Intel’s anticipated exclusivity might be short-lived, however, as Apple could still send some orders Qualcomm’s way as a negotiating concession in trying to end the legal quarrel between the two. Apple is also famously reluctant to rely on any individual supplier too heavily, with its history showing a diversified supply chain for displays and other components. Where it can, the company also prefers to build and design its own parts, as it most recently did by switching to making its own GPU.
As to what all of this behind-the-scenes jockeying means to the end user of Apple’s iPhone X successor family, the answer is “not much.” We can anticipate faster LTE in the next iPhone, no matter if the chip supplier is Intel or Qualcomm. That will be a necessary step to keep pace with the upcoming Galaxy S9 and its Exynos 9 chip, which also promises accelerated cellular connectivity.