APPLE IS REPORTEDLY designing iPhones and iPads without chipsets from its long-time partner Qualcomm amid escalating tensions between the two firms.
So says The Wall Street Journal, which reports that Apple is currently testing modem chips from Intel and MediaTek to potentially include in its 2018 hardware line-up.
The report notes that Qualcomm has been withholding software for testing in prototypes of Apple's flagship devices, a practice which is believed to begun after Apple filed a lawsuit against the chipmaker in January.
This escalating legal battle between the two firms most recently saw Qualcomm file a new suit in a bid to get the iPhone banned in China, with the firm claiming that Apple is in violation of three patents covering its use power management and Force Touch technology.
In a statement given to the WSJ, Qualcomm said that its modem for the next-gen iPhone has "already been fully tested and released to Apple," and added that it's "committed to supporting Apple's new devices."
This statement, while convincing, is a far cry from the chipmaker's actions, and Apple has already shown signs of moving away from Qualcomm chips in its hardware. After years of sticking with its long-time partner, Apple began using Intel modems in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, and both companies made the cut again on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.
People familiar with the firm's manufacturing process believe that Apple could change its modem chip supplier as late as June, three months ahead of the next iPhone's scheduled launch in September. However, with the next iPad Pro tipped to launch sooner in 2018, the firm may have to make a decision before then.
Apple hasn't yet commented on the report, but Tim Cook recently spoke out about the firm's legal battle with Qualcomm.
"The reason that we're pursuing this is that Qualcomm‘s trying to charge Apple a percentage of the total iPhone value, and they do some really great work around standards-essential patents, but it's one small part of what an iPhone is," Cook said.
"It's not — it has nothing to do with the display or the Touch ID or a gazillion other innovations that Apple has done. And so we don't think that's right. And so we're taking a principled stand on it, and we strongly believe we're in the right. And I'm sure they believe that they are, and that's what courts are for. And we'll let it go with that." µ
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