Apple might still use Intel 5G modem chips for future iPhone models
It seems that talk about Apple loading its 2020 iPhone units with home-grown 5G modems might have been premature. On Thursday of last week, a report out of Israel said that Apple had informed Intel that the 2020 iPhone models would not carry a modem from Intel dubbed "Sunny Peak," which was rumored to handle 5G, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity on a single chip. But as it turned out, "Sunny Peak" never did include 5G connectivity, meaning that Intel is still expecting to sell 5G modem chips to Apple.
It also means the end of the line for "Sunny Peak" since Apple was slated to be the major customer for the chip. Those in the know say that "Sunny Peak" has since been abandoned, with those working on the component being shifted to other projects. And comments from Intel about its 5G customer roadmap for 2018-2020 make it clear that the chipmaker expects its modem chips to be inside the iPhone through at least 2020. After that, who knows?
In trying to figure out why Apple decided to give a wide berth to "Sunny Peak," Intel executives speculated that engineering problems that the company ran into could be at fault. Intel was hoping to have the chip support a speedy new Wi-Fi technology called 802.11ad WiGig, but the aforementioned engineering issues stopped that from taking place.
Apple's options for 5G modem chips are wide open. It can decide to go with its own home-grown design, stick with Intel and or Qualcomm, or throw a dark horse into the mix. MediaTek, rumored earlier to be in play to replace Qualcomm on the 2018 iPhone models, will reportedly receive orders from Apple for Wi-Fi chips to be used on the HomePod smart speaker. This could be an audition that Apple is giving MediaTek, prior to reaching a decision about which company to use to supply it with 5G modem chips for future iPhone units.