There has never been any doubt that Apple will be launching its first-ever 5G enabled iPhones this year. It is also as good as confirmed that the Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 modem will be fitted on the iPhone 5G models. This was after the two companies buried their differences and agreed to work together again in April 2019. The understanding so far has been that with Apple having acquired the Intel mobile modem manufacturing facility, the company will replace the Qualcomm modems with its own inhouse modem as soon as it is able to develop one. That is not to be as a new revelation has confirmed. The Statement of Work (SOW) that was signed between the companies last year clearly spells out that not just for the year 2020, but for the succeeding three years too, 2021, 2022 and 2023 Apple’s iPhones will use Qualcomm 5G modems only.
Copy of the Agreement Now in Public Domain
In the age of the internet, nothing appears to be confidential anymore. This document where two corporate entities agree to work together need not be made public. It has come out now and has revealed a few facts. First, it establishes that Apple is bound to use the Qualcomm 5G modems till March 2024 on its iPhones. More significantly, it reveals the model numbers of the modems Qualcomm will be manufacturing though it is really not rocket science to understand. The chip maker started with the X50 modem which was used by Samsung and other phone makers who have launched 5G smartphones. The modem now in use in the X55. This is going to progress to X60 in 2021, X65 in 2022 and X70 in 2023.
Will the Term “Some of Which” Give any Relief?
If you went through the document, it states Apple will be launching its iPhones and then adds “some of which will use SDX55 Qualcomm chipset”. This can be interpreted in two ways. One is the obvious conclusion that not all iPhones that Apple launches each year from here on will be 5G enabled. The other could be open-ended with some kind of an understanding that Apple will assure a minimum offtake of the Qualcomm 5G modems beyond which they can source other 5G modems. This is pure conjecture since the terminology used leads you to think that way.
The last question to be raised is which models of iPhones to be released this Fall will have the 5G version.