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Apple and Qualcomm put their legal battles to rest in April last year as both companies looked forward to a 5G future for the iPhone, set to kick off this fall. A new report, however, suggests that Apple isn't satisfied with Qualcomm's existing 5G antenna design and will be coming up with its own solution for 2020 iPhones.
"Apple balked at the QTM 525 millimeter-wave antenna module offered to it by Qualcomm because it doesn’t fit into the sleek industrial design Apple wants for the new phone," an anonymous source told Fast Company.
The publication further notes that Qualcomm would still be Apple's 5G modem supplier, with its Snapdragon X55, and that Cupertino's custom antenna is being worked on alongside another design that utilizes both the Qualcomm modem and antenna.
With an in-house antenna design, Apple can't risk another iPhone 4's Antennagate-like situation for its 5G iPhones' debut
After its $1 billion acquisition of Intel's 5G modem business, Apple could potentially be looking to slowly rid itself of Qualcomm by starting with an in-house antenna design, which seemingly won't be without its challenges as the antenna will need to work with a third-party modem, for which Fast Company notes:
The 5G iPhone will use a “phased array” antenna with two parts that work together to form a beam of radio signal. The beam can be electronically steered in different directions without the antenna moving. The modem chip and the antenna module work closely together to make this work properly, our source said. Having the two parts made by different companies may introduce some uncertainty and bump up the difficulty level of the overall design.
Along with its attempt for minimal reliance on Qualcomm, it remains to be seen how thin and sleek Apple is willing to go with its 2020 iPhones. If the company's custom antenna design is unable to achieve its targets, it would then have to settle for a slightly thicker iPhone that uses Qualcomm's QTM 525 antenna module, which its maker supports for designs sleeker than "8 millimeters thick."