AN UNLIKELY PARTNERSHIP may be about to blossom, as Huawei is reportedly willing to flog its 5G modem chips to Apple.
So says Engadget, which has heard from a "source with knowledge of the situation" that Huawei is "open" to selling its 5G-capable Balong 5000 modem solely to Apple.
Apple is in a bit of a rut with its 5G iPhone plans; a recent report from Fast Company claimed that Intel has been missing deadlines for the development of its XMM 8160 5G modem, despite last year bringing forward the launch of the chip by six months.
Intel, which was to be the firm's sole supplier of 5G modems for its 2020 iPhones, needs to get sample parts to Apple by early summer of this year before delivering a finished modem design in early 2020, but Apple is said to have "lost confidence" in Intel's ability to have the chip ready on time.
While Intel has debunked the rumour, saying in a statement that it "plans to support customer device launches in 2020 with its XMM 8160 5G multimode modem," Apple has reportedly accelerated its in-house efforts and has between 1,000 and 2,000 engineers working on modem chips, but these will unlikely will be ready until 2021.
The firm is also said to have held talks with both Samsung and MediaTek, but neither is likely to be in a position to supply the modems for a 5G iPhone in 2020.
Huawei seems just as unlikely a partner, but Engadget's report states that the Balong 5000 modem would be ready to ship in iPhones as soon as last year.
Still, we're not convinced. As Engadget points out, Huawei isn't known for its chip sales, and earlier this year, a Huawei representative said the 5G Balong chips are meant for the firm's internal use only.
What's more, it's very unlikely that Apple would turn to Huawei given the trouble the Chinese firm has faced in the US; the government has been banned from using devices from the Chinese firm, and the country has since been pressuring its foreign allies to follow suit.
Oh, and not to mention the fact that Huawei was recently accused of using sneaky tactics to steal Apple's trade secrets.
Huawei declined to comment, and Apple hasn't yet returned our request for a statement. µ
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