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Intel Says Its 5G Chips Will Be in Commercial Devices in Early 2020

The latest 5G news from Qualcomm and Intel indicates that Intel could be around a year behind Qualcomm in getting its 5G silicon in smartphones and other devices, a fact that could affect the launch of Apple's first 5G iPhone.

In the wake of rumors about a 5G iPhone using silicon from the chipmaker, Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) released a statement on its 5G timeline Monday. The chipmaker says that modem chipsets will start to ship in the second half of 2019.

"Commercial devices using the Intel XMM 8160 5G modem including phones, PCs and broadband access gateways are expected to be available in the first half of 2020," a spokesperson for the company told Light Reading today.

Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM), meanwhile, has said that its initial commercial launches will start by the middle of next year. "The first mobile 5G network launches will begin in the second calendar quarter next year, and there will be commercial launches occurring simultaneously across North America, Europe, China, Japan, South Korea and Australia," Qualcomm CEO Steven Mollenkopf said on the company's earnings call last week.

See A 5G Device Timeline for 2018 & Beyond for an anticipated 5G device timeline.

Apple, you'll recall, has entirely switched to Intel for its latest iPhones, and is continuing an ongoing legal fight with Qualcomm concerning licensing fees. (See New iPhones Have Intel Inside and Apple Isn't Talking Settlement Over Qualcomm Case – Report.)

Indeed, 2020 could be the arrival date for a 5G iPhone using Intel silicon, September being the most typical release date for new iPhones. Although, as we have noted, smartphone design will undergo changes beyond the modem in the 5G age, with new, higher frequencies affecting the overall design requirements of smartphones and other devices. (See 5G Will Change How Your Smartphone Is Designed.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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