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Intel Has Good News for iPhone Owners Who Want 5G Speeds

When Apple dumped all Qualcomm modems in favor of Intel products in its iPhones this year, some fans fretted that might lead to delays for introducing speedier wireless technology.

On Monday, Intel tried to assuage those fears, announcing that the second iteration of its super-fast 5G modem would be ready for manufacturers in the second half of 2019, about six months earlier than it had previously planned. Consumers should expect products with the new modem starting in the first half of 2020, Intel said. The earlier availability of the new modem, called the XMM 8160, should be in time to make Apple’s 2020 round of iPhone updates, which usually arrive in the fall.

Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the Intel announcement.

The announcement comes after rumors of problems have swirled around Intel’s initial 5G modem, called the XMM 8060. Apple (AAPL) was said to be dissatisfied with the large amount of heat produced by the 8060, Fast Company reported earlier this month. Meanwhile, several Apple rivals in the phone market are expected to use Qualcomm’s 5G modem chips in products next year.

Intel (INTC) executives didn’t address possible problems with the company’s initial modem while talking up the merits of the follow-on edition. “We are seeing great demand for the feature set of the XMM 8160, such that we made a strategic decision to pull in the launch of this modem by half a year,” Cormac Conroy, head of Intel’s communications and devices group, said in a statement.

The new modem will be able to connect to older 3G and 4G LTE networks at the same time it is making a 5G connection, Intel said. The modem will also operate in a wide variety of spectrum bands being used for 5G around the world, the company said.

Qualcomm (QCOM) has typically led the field in adding new features in wireless modems and the entire industry is gearing up to roll out the next generation of much faster transmission systems, called 5G, over the next few years.