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Apple considered Samsung and MediaTek for 5G modems in 2019 iPhones

(Reuters) – Apple held talks with Samsung Electronics and MediaTek along with existing vendor Intel to deliver 5G modem chips for 2019 iPhones, according to an Apple executive's testimony at a trial between Qualcomm and US Federal Trade Commission Friday .

Between 2011 and 2016, Apple led San Diego-based Qualcomm as the only provider of such chips, helping iPhones connect to wireless networks. Apple began distributing deals between Intel and Qualcomm in 2016, but in 2018, Apple only moved to Intel for its latest phones.

But Apple Supply Chain Executive Tony Blevins testified on Friday that Apple has also considered MediaTek and Samsung, one of its biggest competitors in the smartphone market, to deliver chips to the next-generation wireless network known as 5G. These networks are expected to start rolling out this year and provide faster data rates than current 4G networks.

The FTC sues Qualcomm who claims that the chip supplier is engaging in anti-competitive patent licensing practices to maintain a dominant position in the premium modem chip market.

On the stand at a federal court in San Jose, California, Blevins told Apple that for a long time, Apple had sought several vendors for modem chips but signed an agreement with Qualcomm to exclusively supply chips because the chip provider offered deep discounts on patent license costs in exchange for exclusivity.

Apple broke off work on Intel in 201

3 to begin delivering modems to the iPad Mini 2 because Apple would lose its rebates by using Intel's chips, leaving Intel's products "economically unattractive".

That year, after negotiations with Qualcomm did not cost as Apple hoped, and Apple kicked off "Project Antique" to secure a second-place m vendor, tested Blevins.

By 2016 and 2017, Apple introduced Intel's modem to some of its iPhones, but still used Qualcomm chips. But Apple's trial of Qualcomm filed in early 2017 caused their business relationship to change "in a very deep and negative way," which meant only using Intel's modem for the phones released last year.

"The whole concept of Project Antique was to find a second supplier. No offense against (Intel) but we do not want to be the sole supplier with them. We wanted both Qualcomm and (Intel) in the mix," Blevins also said. considered that Intel was the only modem provider for Apple Watch, which gave 4G connectivity in 2017 with Qualcomm chips.

Blevins said talking to Samsung, whose Galaxy and Note units are competing against the iPhone, is "not a non-profit environment "for Apple, but Samsung is currently the largest component supplier to Apple.

Blevins did not say whether Apple had made a decision on a 5G modem provider or whether it would release a 5G iPhone 2019. Quoting sources, Bloomberg reported earlier that Apple would not release such a phone until 2020.

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