Report: Intel to supply 5G modems for the iPhone in 2020

You’ve probably heard carriers begin to talk about 5G coming soon. While no carrier has officially rolled out the tech, and there have been various implementations, it’s coming sooner rather than later.

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According to a report from Fast Company, Apple is planning to bring 5G to its iPhone in 2020. It says that Apple will be using Intel’s 8161 5G modem, and aligns with reports that the company plans on ditching Qualcomm and using Intel as its sole provider for cellular modems.

Intel has been working on a precursor to the 8161 called the 8060, which will be used for prototyping and testing the 5G iPhone. The 8161 will be fabricated using Intel’s 10-nanometer process, which increases transistor density for more speed and efficiency.

Despite Apple wanting to cut ties with Qualcomm, the company is reportedly not happy with the progress Intel is making with its 8060 modems. Apparently, Intel isn’t able to reduce heat dissipation with its latest chips. This is important as U.S. carriers Verizon and AT&T plan on using millimeter-wave spectrum (between 30 and 300 Ghz) for its 5G networks.

But millimeter-wave signal requires some heavy lifting from the modem chips, our source explains. This causes the release of higher-than-normal levels of thermal energy inside the phone–so much so that the heat can be felt on the outside of the phone.

Another issue is battery life. Any sort of heat generation will cause a decrease in battery life, similar to what we saw with early 4G LTE phones.

However, Intel isn’t worried. It reportedly says that the issues should get resolved soon and that it’s not serious enough for Apple to go back to Qualcomm. However, Intel is concerned that Apple may have a “Plan B” in the works with chip maker MediaTek about potentially supplying modem chips.

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