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This Big 2018 iPhone Change Could Be Bad News For You

Apple is turning its back on Qualcomm modems. And that means future iPhones could be slower than their Android counterparts when it comes to 4G speeds.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In an earnings call with analysts this week, Qualcomm chief financial officer George Davis reported that the company believes "Apple intends to solely use our competitor's modems rather than our modems in its next iPhone release."

Davis didn't expand on what that might mean for iPhones, but Qualcomm's Cristiano Amon, who heads up Qualcomm's chip operation, believes Apple could eventually bring its business back to Qualcomm. CNET earlier reported on the comments.

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Apple has long relied on Qualcomm modems in its devices. But after the companies engaged in a fierce patent dispute starting in 2017, Apple started to back away from Qualcomm chips. Apple relies upon 4G chips from Intel in versions that run on AT&T and T-Mobile networks. Qualcomm's comments suggest that could expand to Verizon and Sprint and include any other modems Apple relies on to get networking up and running on its devices.

But there are real implications to such a move. As CNET notes, several benchmarks have shown Qualcomm chips easily beating Intel chips in networking speeds. Apple split its use of modems in last year's iPhones to help meet the demand for all of its devices. By breaking from Qualcomm and moving to Intel only, Apple could be putting far too much pressure on Intel to meet its supply numbers.

Still, it's important to note that this is all speculation. Apple has not commented on plans for future iPhones, let alone the chips running in them.

Don Reisinger is a communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter who has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine and The New York Times, as well as Tom's Guide.