Citing several new Apple job listings spotted by The Information, which seek engineers capable of designing and developing a layer 1 cellular PHY chip, a report by The Verge is suggesting that the iPhone maker could be working on an in-house modem to leave Intel behind and compete directly with Qualcomm.
At least two Apple job listings are to explicitly hire cellular modem systems architects, one in Santa Clara and one in San Diego. Additionally, the Cupertino giant has listed several other job postings in San Diego, home of Qualcomm, for RF design engineers.
Citing an unnamed source, the report notes that Apple is not only potentially working to develop its own modem, but is “in fact specifically targeting it for use in future iPhones”. However, an Apple modem could still be years away with a purported 5G iPhone slated for 2020 using Intel’s 5G modem instead.
It makes sense logically, too — if Apple is only just starting to hire now, it’ll take at least a few years before it’ll actually be ready to ship hardware. But the move would have big ramifications for the mobile space, particularly for Qualcomm and Intel, two of the biggest modem suppliers in the world.
The problem for Apple, though, is that it can choose to use Intel’s modems, but when it comes down to hard numbers, Intel simply hasn’t been keeping up performance-wise compared to Qualcomm’s modems.
A recent analysis of Ookla speed tests has found that devices with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 offered significantly better speeds than devices with Intel modems.