Samsung may end up supplying modems for 5G iPhones
Samsung’s 5G modem will debut in its flagship smartphones this year. The company will be open to selling this chip to other customers as well. It appears that Apple could be one of those customers. It was revealed during the testimony of an Apple executive at the trial between Qualcomm and Apple on Friday that the Cupertino, California-based company has held talks with Samsung on sourcing 5G modem chips for future iPhones.
Qualcomm was the sole supplier of cellular modems for Apple’s devices between 2011 and 2016. Apple split orders between Intel and Qualcomm in 2016 and moved all of its orders to Intel last year for its new iPhones. The move followed the ongoing legal battle between the two companies.
Apple held discussions with Samsung on 5G modems
Apple supply chain executive Tony Blevins testified last week that Apple has considered sourcing 5G modems from Samsung and even MediaTek. The company has long wanted multiple suppliers for cellular chips but inked an exclusive agreement with Qualcomm as it offered substantial rebates on patent license costs if it was granted exclusivity.
He also mentioned how Apple wanted both Qualcomm and Intel in the mix. Ot did not want to rely too much on a single supplier. However, its business relationship with Qualcomm changed “in a very profound and negative manner” after the lawsuit was filed in 2017. This led to Apple only using Intel modems in its new iPhones last year.
Samsung obvious stands to gain from this. It announced its Exynos Modem 5100 for smartphones five months ago. Samsung says that it’s the industry’s first 5G modem that’s fully 3GPP-compliant. It’s a single-chip modem with multi-mode communication support. Samsung said that it would begin supplying the modem to customers by the end of last year.
Blevins acknowledged that being in discussions with Samsung on this is “not an ideal environment” for Apple. However, he rightly pointed out that Samsung happens to be the largest component supplier to Apple. If a deal is reached, its impact may not reflect in the company’s bottom line before the next fiscal year. Apple’s 5G iPhones aren’t expected to arrive until 2020.