Shortly after Apple and Qualcomm settled their courtroom dispute and signed a licensing and a supply agreement, Intel said the company is exiting the 5G smartphone modem chip business. Intel will be mostly focusing on 4G and 5G modems for PCs, IoT and smart home devices. Because of this, according to unnamed industry sources cited by DigiTimes, “mobile modem chips are likely to become scarce strategic resources in the 5G era”.
There are only five 5G modem chip suppliers in the world at the moment, now that Intel is out: Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics, MediaTek, HiSilicon and Unisoc. Qualcomm will be supplying Apple, but its chips can be used in Android devices as well. Samsung and Huawei’s HiSilicon will be used in their respective companies’ own phones, leaving MediaTek and Unisoc as options, but only for Android device.
DigiTimes notes that while application processors can be designed by handset vendors, 5G modem chips are hardly “suitable for investment by non-dedicated makers”, according to the report. While smartphone manufacturers are, and will design their own processors, they will likely turn to the aforementioned five for 5G modem chips, which could turn into a bright future for these companies.