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Apple Couldn't Use Qualcomm Chips For 2018 iPhones Because Qualcomm Refused To Sell Them

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Apple says it wanted to use Qualcomm modems on the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR, but Qualcomm wouldn't sell them processors.

Apple chief operating officer Jeff Williams disclosed this info during the U.S. Federal Trade Commission trial against Qualcomm.

No Qualcomm Chips

As reported by CNET's Shara Tikben, who is reporting details of the trial, Apple couldn't get their hands on Qualcomm modems because the latter refused to do so.

The two have been embroiled in a legal battle over patents and such, and ever since it started, the chipmaker wouldn't sell chips to the Cupertino company.

"We have been unable to get them to support us on new design wins past that time [when Apple filed a lawsuit against Qualcomm] ... This has been a challenge," Williams said.

Williams added that he believes Qualcomm charging a royalty rate of $7.50 per iPhone for using its patents is overpriced.

Potential Delay Of 5G iPhones

Initially, the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR lineup was supposed to consist of a mix of Intel and Qualcomm models. This is what Apple did for the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X models.

Williams tried to ink a deal with Qualcomm and contacted its CEO Steve Mollenkopf but was refused. Instead, Apple contacted Intel CEO Brian Krzanich to provide LTE chips for the 2018 iPhones.

"The strategy was to dual-source in 2018 as well. We were working toward doing that with Qualcomm, but in the end they would not support us or sell us chips," Williams said.

One issue here is that Qualcomm modems are faster than their Intel counterparts, as proven with the iPhone X. Apple even had to limit the speeds of the Qualcomm variants just so the Intel versions wouldn't lag behind in terms of LTE performance for the sake of equality.

However, the bigger problem could be in the future. If Apple can't secure Qualcomm modems in the imminent 5G era and have to depend on Intel, then it could take a long time before 5G iPhones could materialize. That's because Intel's 5G components aren't expected to be available until 2020.

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