Apple is reportedly looking at MediaTek to potentially replace Qualcomm in supplying modems for the iPhone starting as early as 2018. Although the Taiwan-based modem supplier apparently hasn’t yet sealed the deal to supply the iPhone 9 modems, an agreement between it and Apple is said to be close.
Apple said to seek another supplier for iPhone 9 modems
Technically, we don’t yet know the name for the 2018 iPhone models, but many outlets are settling on “iPhone 9” and/ or “iPhone 11.” Apple is reportedly seeking another supplier of baseband modem chipsets, and today Digitimes reports that MediaTek has a chance to win some of the orders for the iPhone 9 modems.
Apple shifted about half of its iPhone modem orders from Qualcomm to Intel as it continues to battle the chip maker in court. The lawsuit between Apple and Qualcomm has been pending for about a year now as the iPhone maker accuses the chip maker of unfair calculations of patent royalties for the modems used in iPhones.
The Asian media outlet’s sources said that Apple’s move to switch half the orders for its iPhone modems to Intel was part of its efforts to protect itself in connection with that lawsuit.
The iPhone maker is now reportedly looking for a second supplier for iPhone 9 modems to take on some of the orders that Qualcomm is still filling. Qualcomm has gotten even bolder has the year went on, even seeking a ban on the iPhone X last month.
This isn’t the first time we’re hearing that MediaTek could become a supplier for modems in future iPhone models. The Wall Street Journal reported in late October that the company had been tapped as a potential replacement for Qualcomm along with Intel. The Taiwan-based firm would not comment about the speculations, other than to say that it has been working to get more orders from more potential customers.
Why MediaTek could become a supplier of iPhone 9 modems
According to Digitimes, MediaTek would be a good fit to supply some of the iPhone 9 modems because it does meet the three things Apple uses to select chip suppliers for its devices, which it describes as “leading technological competitiveness, comprehensive product blueprints, and reliable logistic support.”
However, the news outlet adds that winning the orders for the iPhone 9 modems will only benefit MediaTek in the short term. Digitimes’ sources said that it will be difficult for it to take a prominent position in Apple’s established supply chains.
They said that the chip supplier instead will be in a good position to cooperate with Apple on its future devices, such as smart speakers, wireless chargers and wireless connection systems. MediaTek already is a leading supplier in these areas, both in market share and technology advances.