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Why Apple buys Intel's modem business is a big deal for the iPhone



It has finally happened. After months of speculation, Apple has confirmed plans to buy Intel's smartphone modem business at a $ 1 billion deal.

The acquisition, which has not been completed, is Apple's second largest in its history. (The record is still held by Beats, which Apple bought for $ 3 billion in 2014.) As part of the deal, Apple says more than 2,000 Intel employees will join their ranks. (Note that Apple only acquires Intel's smartphone modem business. The chipmaker, who left his own 5G smartphone plans earlier this year, will still be able to create 5G chips for PCs and other devices.)

Although Not unexpectedly, the move is a pretty big deal for Apple, although $ 1

billion is a relatively small sum for the company. This is because the acquisition has major implications for future iPhones.

It's about a better iPhone

Apple has made it clear for a while that it really, really wants to make its own iPhone modems, just as it builds its own graphics processors. Acquiring Intel's chip business is the biggest step the company has taken towards this goal.

With the thousands of Intel employees, there is also a huge cache of intellectual property that Apple desperately needs to bring home modem production. Following the acquisition, Apple will own more than 17,000 wireless technology patents, according to the company's press release.

The acquisition also helps Apple better prepare for 5G. Analysts already expect that the first 5G iPhones could be launched as soon as 2020. These phones will, in all likelihood, have Qualcomm chips, as Intel's 5G modems were reportedly delayed.

With full control of one of the main iPhone components, Apple will be able to improve your smartphone in new ways.

But the Intel acquisition should speed up Apple's plans to build their own modems tremendously, which is good news for iPhone owners. With full control of one of the most important iPhone components, Apple will be able to improve your smartphone in new ways.

Think of Apple's A12 Bionic CPU: the chip provides some of the most advanced features of the iPhone XS and XR, such as augmented reality and face-tracking features. Or Apple's H1 chip in the latest AirPods, helping your earbuds sync better with your iPhone while getting better battery life. The fact that Apple designs these internal means that it can ensure that their hardware and software work better together.

Similarly, an Apple-built modem can provide a faster iPhone or better battery life, as Wall Street Journal points out.

These changes won't come overnight. Even with the acquisition, it will still take some time before Apple comes to the point where it can ditch Qualcomm completely. But the end result will almost be a better iPhone.

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