The report aligns with previous rumors suggesting Apple is planning to ditch Qualcomm for 5G components and will instead rely on Intel as its sole provider for cellular modems.
"Intel has been working on a precursor to the 8161 called the 8060, which will be used for prototyping and testing the 5G iPhone. The 8161 will be fabricated using Intel's 10-nanometer process, which increases transistor density for more speed and efficiency," reports Fast Company.
Intel 5G Problems
Though Apple is firm on cutting its ties with Qualcomm, the Cupertino brand is allegedly unhappy with Intel's progress thus far. Apparently, Intel is still trying to figure out how to reduce heat dissipation with its latest chips. This is crucial since some U.S. carriers, such as Verizon and AT&T, plan to use millimeter-wave spectrum for its 5G networks.
For the uninitiated, millimeter-wave signal requires considerable "heavy lifting" from modem chips. It causes higher-than-normal levels of thermal energy inside the phone — to a degree where the heat can be felt on the phone's exterior.
Another issue is battery life. It doesn't take a genius to know that any kind of heat generation inside an electronic device powered by a rechargeable battery will cause that battery to drain faster than usual. As such, if Intel's 5G modem fails to successfully reduce heat dissipation, battery life will definitely be affected. This is similar to what had occurred with early 4G LTE handsets.
Despite everything, Intel apparently isn't worried. Allegedly, the chipmaker says the issues mentioned above should get resolved pretty soon, and that it's not serious enough for Apple to have to go back to using Qualcomm components again. That being said, Intel is reportedly concerned that Apple has a "Plan B" up its sleeve in case everything blows over for Intel. Apparently, Apple might also be talking with chip manufacturer MediaTek about potentially supplying modem chips.
Of course, everything mentioned above belongs in rumor territory. Needless to say, take everything with a grain of salt. However, the idea of Apple having a Plan B that involves MediaTek seems highly plausible, especially since entering a partnership with Qualcomm once again is probably out of the question after their nasty legal fallout.