Apple confirms acquisition of Intel’s smartphone modem division for $1 billion

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Earlier this week reports were doing the rounds suggesting that Apple was eyeing up an acquisition of Intel’s mobile modem division, with the pair having recently gone their separate ways as Apple turned to Qualcomm to assist with 5G compatible silicon.

That arrangement with Qualcomm still appears to be in place, but now Apple has confirmed that it is indeed acquiring Intel’s smartphone modem business, with the estimated price being $1 billion.

The deal is set to be finalised in the fourth quarter of this year, the firm noted in a press release, subject to a regulatory approval process. Apple will also be absorbing roughly 2 200 Intel employees, along with the associated intellectual property, equipment and leases.

As for when we’ll see the first in-house manufactured 5G modem from Apple, remains to be seen, with no precise timeline for product rollout mentioned at this early stage of the acquisition process.

“This agreement enables us to focus on developing technology for the 5G network while retaining critical intellectual property and modem technology that our team has created,” explained Intel CEO Bob Swan.

“We have long respected Apple and we’re confident they provide the right environment for this talented team and these important assets moving forward. We’re looking forward to putting our full effort into 5G where it most closely aligns with the needs of our global customer base, including network operators, telecommunications equipment manufacturers and cloud service providers,” he added.

With Apple receiving more than 17 000 wireless patents as a result of this deal, it should be looking to ramp up its design and production of modem architecture in the next few months. For clarity, Intel will still be able to create its own non-smartphone modems.

If you’re wanting to buy a 5G-supporting iPhone this year, the chances are slim, but next year is certainly a possibility, with the device likely sporting a Qualcomm offering.

We may have to wait until 2021 for an Apple version, as Intel was still a good year or more away from having its own 5G smartphone modems ready to launch to market.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.