As Apple and Qualcomm have agreed to settle all ongoing lawsuits, putting an end to the legal battle that’s seen the two tech giants bitterly bicker amongst one another for two years, the former is beginning work on its own 5G modem chips for iPhones.
The companies headed to court for one day before announcing the settlement, which resolves all claims globally and has Apple paying a fee for the use of Qualcomm technology for at least the next six years.
As part of the settlement, Apple will make a payment to Qualcomm for an undisclosed amount. A joint press release announcing the settlement notes that the companies have reached a six-year global patent licensing agreement, which may be extended for another two years. They’ve also agreed for Qualcomm to supply parts to Apple for multiple years, which likely means its modems will once again appear in the iPhone.
One of the reasons behind this settlement could be Intel’s failure to develop a 5G modem. Without such technology, which Intel promised to launch next year, Apple would be late to the 5G push, and this is already gaining more traction across the world. Qualcomm, on the other hand, is already a pioneer of 5G modems, so it can help Apple bring a 5G iPhone to the market much faster, possibly as soon as 2020.
According to Nikkei, Apple is beginning the process of developing its own 5G modem chips, which could accelerate the process of bringing a 5G iPhone to the market. However, Apple is unlikely to use its proprietary modem chips in iPhones before 2021, as production brings a “high technical barrier” with it, not to mention the “time-consuming testing by telecom operators in markets worldwide.”
As such, Apple will likely partner with Qualcomm for the time being until the Cupertino company figures out a way to efficiently produce its own 5G modems.
Intel, which currently supplies all the modems for the iPhone XS and XR, said it will “continue to meet current customer commitments for its existing 4G smartphone modem product line,” but is assessing its options for the modem business and no longer plans to release a 5G modem next year as it had planned.
For now, the settlement between Apple and Qualcomm appears to be a huge blow to Intel, but on the other hand, can only be good news for the iPhone. Further details are expected to be shared in the coming months as the collaboration between the two companies advances.