But here is the thing: even the 2020 iPhone may not have 5G support.
Apple expects Intel to deliver sample parts of the 5G modem by the start of summer of this year, with a finished modem design by early 2020.
However, Apple - which is said to be "demanding" that its orders be first in line for Intel's fab, forcing the chipmaker to lower the priority of higher-margin chip orders - is said to have "lost confidence" in Intel's ability to deliver the chip on time. As reported by 9to5 Mac, UBS analyst Timothy Arcuri has released a report that says "there is an increasing likelihood that Apple will not be able to launch a 5G iPhone next year."Credit: Tom's GuideThat would mean no 5G iPhone not just in 2019, which was already expected, but not in 2020 either".
The scoop comes courtesy of Fast Company, which cites an anonymous source that claims to have some insight into the development of the Intel XMM 8160 5G modem.
The issue is that Apple doesn't have access to Qualcomm's 5G modems due to its ongoing patent dispute with the company. It reportedly has between 1000 and 1200 engineers working on the chips for future iPhones and has recruited RF engineers from both Intel and Qualcomm to work in a new San Diego development facility. That still won't be ready in time for the 2020 iPhones, however.
As 9to5 Mac rightly points out, Apple already partners with Samsung on other components, such as OLED panels.
Rather than go back to Qualcomm, a solution could come in the form of modems designed in-house by Apple. There's also a possibility Apple could manufacture its own modems, though this is unlikely.
Apple is now involved in an unresolved legal dispute with the mobile industry's main modem manufacturer, Qualcomm. If this is true, it would be bad news for Intel, which now makes iPhone modems.