Apple and Qualcomm settled a years-old battle over royalties this week, opening up the conversation about whether or not consumers will see a 5G iPhone in the near future. On the same day that Apple and Qualcomm settled their disputes with one another, Intel announced that it will no longer be making a line of 5G capable chips that were slated for release in 2020. The race to 5G has made its way onto headlines quite a lot recently. So Intel’s decision to opt-out comes as a surprise.
The disputes between Apple and Qualcomm go back years and area heavy influence in how Intel got involved with the making of 5G chips in the first place. Apple began fighting for its rights to not have to pay significant royalty fees in order to use Qualcomm’s mobile phone chips. The initial lawsuit alleged that Qualcomm was violating rules against companies having to pay royalties for products they had already purchased. The royalty fees would have driven the price of the iPhone up as well, so Apple knew that it couldn’t afford to raise the prices on its already expensive product.
Both companies agreed to chill out, as long as Apple worked solely with Qualcomm by only using their chips in their mobile phones. Apple eventually didn’t comply and began working with Intel as well, prompting Qualcomm to file a counter lawsuit against the tech company. Meanwhile, Apple shifted from using both Intel and Qualcomm chips in its phones to using exclusively Intel. Today, new iPhone’s are made with only Intel chips.
Intel’s decision to opt out of making 5G chips likely has a lot to do with the drama between Apple and Qualcomm. However, it’s not clear whether or not Intel opted out before the settlement, or if the settlement came about because Intel opted out. Regardless, Apple needed to get its hands on a 5G chip as soon as possible. As of today, Qualcomm is the only company working on a 5G capable chip for mobile phones. Tech companies around the world are racing to create 5G phones, which should hit the market in the next couple of years.
It’s not likely that consumers are going to notice a huge difference between 4G LTE and 5G once the new network hits the market. At most, the new connection speeds are going to allow mobile phone users to do things like stream 4K shows and movies on their devices. The higher connection speeds aren’t going to create a noticeable difference in how we consume media through our mobile devices, but the jump is enough to contribute to advances in the technology itself.
The drawback is that in order to access the 5G network, which isn’t even available yet, users are going to have to upgrade to 5G compatible phones. It’s the same idea when you had to upgrade to a 4G LTE phone when that service became available. Right now, the network isn’t on the market to the public.
With Intel opting out of 5G chips for mobile phones, the future is back in the hands of Qualcomm. Intel will, however, continue to make 5G chips for laptop computers and other devices. Your mobile phone, however, is in the hands of Qualcomm.