Huawei Reportedly Wants to Sell Its 5G Modems, but Only to Apple

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Why it's important: Following its feud with Qualcomm, a leader in 5G-enabled chips, Apple will not be able to offer a 5G iPhone until 2020 should be unable to find a ready supply of modems.

"A source with knowledge of the situation has confirmed that Huawei is now "open" to selling its "5G Balong 5000" chipsets, but only to Apple", Engadget reported on Monday.

This is bound to raise eyebrows, because aside from being one of the largest chipmakers in the world, Intel has been the sole supplier of modem chips for iPhones for a fairly long time. For sometime, Apple had relied on Qualcomm and Intel for its chips.

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A partnership between Apple and Huawei would be unusual considering the fact that the Chinese giant has been accused of stealing intellectual property and copying its rivals products in the past. Huawei now uses its Balong 5000 5G modem, and it is reported that this chip will be integrated with the Mate 30 series when they officially roll out later this year. Instead, it may just be the Intel 5G modem or nothing, at the end of the day. Admittedly, Huawei's Balong 5000 would be suitable for Apple devices with support for sub-6 and mmWave 5G networks along with backwards compatibility with LTE networks. While Apple is not in the top three when it comes to marketshare in China, the Chinese market is still too big for any company to not consider.

While the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and the Moto Z3 (with the help of its 5G Moto Mod) are delivering 5G this year, most rumors suggest we won't see a 5G iPhone until 2020, but now we're hearing it might not even be ready until 2021. Now, it appears that Apple has but one last option - Huawei. So even if Intel is struggling to hit its deadlines, Apple might be able to fall back on another supplier. The launch of a 5G iPhone would be a major boost to global consumer 5G demand and, since Apple would presumably get there eventually anyway, Huawei might think it's better to make sure that demand boost happens ASAP and trouser a nice lot of component revenue while it's at it. In addition to the fact that it would pay an opponent, it could likewise create issues with the United States government.

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