"XMM 7560 [modem chips are] now in the process of being deployed... It is in trial and mass production," said Asha Keddy, Intel's vice president of technology, systems architecture and client group, in an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review. "To be honest, we have a late start. But now, I believe we've caught up and later we want to lead in 5G."
Market watchers believe Intel could secure a majority of orders to provide its latest modem chip, the XMM 7560, for the new iPhones, which will debut later this year. But some are cautious that the chipmaker is currently suffering some quality issues. Intel began supplying some modem chips for the iPhone 7 range from 2016 onwards, and continued to gain market share in providing these components to the iPhone 8 range and iPhone X last year. Apple and Qualcomm were caught in a legal battle over licensing fees from the beginning of 2017.
Keddy declined to comment on Apple's orders.
Intel's XMM 7560 modem supports code division multiple access, or CDMA, a type of communications technology. It will be Intel's first product set to reach data download speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second.
The modems are manufactures by Intel and are not outsourced to TSMC, as it was the case in the past. However, provided that Intel may not be able to fulfill Apple's needs in terms of quantity and quality, Apple may need to to split orders with Qualcomm as in the past two years.
Intel's next-generation 5G modem offering, dubbed the XMM 8060, will be available next year and will likely be first found in fixed wireless products for telecom operators; connected personal computers made by HP, Dell, Lenovo Group, Asustek Computer and Acer; and in smartphones, said Keddy.
Qualcomm and MediaTek -- the world's second-biggest mobile chip supplier -- both said they will have 5G modems available by 2019.