While the Android competition roll out more 5G devices with super fast connectivity, Apple is facing a short- and medium-term future with a lack of 5G modems in the iPhone, possibly until the 2021 handsets.
Apple’s legal tussles with Qualcomm likely rule out the use of the latter’s 5G chips in the iPhone, while Intel’s models are not expected to reach the market until 2020 at the earliest, and are unlikely to be available in sufficient quantities for an immediate iPhone launch. Apple is running out of options, but one has appeared.
Tim Cook and his team have been offered a source of 5G modems that could be incorporated to the iPhone, perhaps not in time for the 2019 models but certainly the 2020 family of devices. And there lies the problem… because the offer comes from Huawei.
Arjun Kharpal reports for CNBC:
In an interview with CNBC that aired Monday, Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei said the company would consider selling its 5G chips to Apple.
“We are open to Apple in this regard,” Ren said. The CEO spoke in Mandarin, which was translated into English by an official translator.
Apple is unlikely to want Huawei’s processor known as the Kirin 980, because it already has its own processor. But the 5G chip could be of interest.
This would give Apple a path to faster connectivity and genuine 5G speeds in the iOS powered handsets (rather than the rebranded 4G LTE experience from AT&T that currently shows up as 5GE) and allow it to match the specifications of rival Android handsets. While the likes of the Galaxy S10 5G will be available during 2019, a 2020 iPhone with 5G would still be late to the market, but could still be many users ‘first’ 5G handset.
But it would require Apple to acknowledge in public that it needs a rival manufacturer to provide cutting edge technology for the iPhone, and tacitly demonstrating that Huawei is one of the world leaders in 5G. It would also require a darling of the American tech industry to turn to a Chinese competitor, a competitor that does not have the greatest of reputations in the corridors of Washington DC.
Huawei has made an offer that would save Apple from short-term embarrassment over the lack of 5G in the 2019 and 2020 phones, but it is an offer that Apple all be widely expected to turn down. To accept the offer would lead to far more complexity than the problem it solves.