This all comes during a nasty bout between Apple and Qualcomm, the latter of which has provided at least a share of modems for past iPhones. The spat involves lawsuits for patent infringement and Qualcomm claiming Apple provided Intel with proprietary code.
A previous research note by Kuo, who has a stellar track record with Apple rumors, suggests Apple is looking to support faster wireless speeds with 4x4 MIMO chips (the iPhone 8 and iPhone X use 2X2 MIMO). But for some, the idea of an Intel modem might not sound great. In the iPhone X, both Qualcomm and Intel supplied modems, and those with the Intel chipset delivered slower LTE speeds than Qualcomm's, according to a study by PCMag.
If the reports are correct, this may all be an attempt by Apple to gain leverage against its adversary and get them back on the company's supply chain. The firm KGI, which Kuo works for, has suggested Qualcomm will get to 5G chips faster, which may eventually be a draw for Apple.
If Apple gets all of its chips from one vendor, at the very least, we won't see people worrying that they got the slower model. Though that won't stop the Cupertino-based company from dual-sourcing other components.
Apple is rumored to release three new iPhones in the back half of the year, all in the style of the iPhone X.