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Apple said to be in advanced talks to buy Intel's smartphone modem business

The deal, reportedly valued at $1 billion, is said to include key staff and a trove of patents.

Published onJuly 23, 2019

A 5G modem from Intel.

Apple wrapped up its legal battle against Qualcomm earlier this year, after several years of wrangling between the two companies. The iPhone maker will buy modem chips from Qualcomm as part of the settlement, but it looks like Apple could be forging ahead with aggressive modem plans of its own.

According to the Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the issue, Apple is in “advanced” talks to acquire Intel’s smartphone modem business.

It’s believed the deal is worth at least $1 billion and could be reached as soon as next week. Sources say the deal would include Intel patents and staff.

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Apple is no stranger to Intel smartphone modems though, as recent iPhones utilized Intel’s 4G cellular chips. The transition to 5G represented a major challenge for the two companies though, as Intel’s 5G modem development reportedly saw major delays. It’s believed that Intel’s 5G delays are at least partially to blame for Apple and Qualcomm’s settlement.

Intel also announced in April that it would be exiting the 5G smartphone modem business, with CEO Bob Swan later blaming the Apple/Qualcomm settlement for the move.

In any event, a move by Apple to buy Intel’s 5G cellular chip business suggests that the Cupertino giant doesn’t want to rely solely on Qualcomm to provide 5G modems. Apple’s own 5G modem was tipped to be at least five years away, but an injection of patents and key staff — many of whom should already be familiar with the iPhone — should speed things up in theory.

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