The real reasons Apple’s iPhone 7/Plus ended up with an Intel chip inside

“For a long time iPhones were one-size-fits-all-networks phones, but the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus each come in two different versions (or SKUs, in industry-speak), one with an Intel modem chip inside and one with a Qualcomm modem,” Mark Sullivan reports for Fast Company. “The Intel 7630 modem doesn’t work with Sprint’s and Verizon’s 3G CDMA networks, so all Sprint and Verizon customers will get an iPhone 7 with a Qualcomm chip inside. For everyone else, the iPhone 7 could have either an Intel or a Qualcomm modem.”

“Having more than one iPhone SKU complicates things a bit for Apple, it has good reason for doing it,” Sullivan reports. “Dual-sourcing the modems in the iPhone 7 also give Apple the leverage it likes over its suppliers. That applies not only to component prices but also to timeframes, quantity numbers, and the level of customization of the produce being delivered.”

Sullivan reports, “But there’s way more to it… Intel has been working with Apple for the past few years to guide the development of the 7360. By October 2015 Intel had at least a 1,000 people working on this failure-not-an-option project. In fact, Intel, my source said, is willing to put as many people to work on the Apple project as it takes to keep the whole thing afloat and meeting deadlines… For Intel, a big design win with the most popular phone on earth is a pretty nice way to make a dramatic re-entrance in the mobile chip business.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: This is a win-win for Apple. When Apple says “jump,” Intel asks “how high?”

iPhone 7 model support info:

Model A1660 and Model A1661 support:
• FDD-LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30)
• TD-LTE (Bands 38, 39, 40, 41)
• TD-SCDMA 1900 (F), 2000 (A)
• CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (800, 1900, 2100 MHz)
• UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)
• GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)

Model A1778 and Model A1784 support:
• FDD-LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30)
• TD-LTE (Bands 38, 39, 40, 41)
• UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)
• GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
Note: Models A1778 and A1784 do not support CDMA networks, such as those used by Verizon and Sprint.

All models support:
• 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi‑Fi with MIMO
• Bluetooth 4.2 wireless technology

Intel supplying wireless chips in some Apple iPhone 7 models – September 9, 2016
Intel may have started shipping XMM 7360 to Apple – July 22, 2016
Analyst: Intel beats Qualcomm to supply 50% of Apple iPhone 7 units – July 11, 2016
Some versions of Apple’s iPhone 7 will use Intel chips; Intel gets first mobile win – June 10, 2016
Apple’s potential switch for key iPhone component hits Qualcomm – April 21, 2016
More evidence that Apple is building its own modem – March 19, 2015
Intel axes 12,000 employees, 11% of its workforce – April 19, 2016
After eating Intel’s mobile lunch, Apple could next devour Qualcomm’s Baseband Processor business – January 20, 2015
Intel has 1,000 people working on chips for Apple iPhone – October 17, 2015


  1. Oh, have Intel been dying to get “Intel Inside” stickers on the iPhone screen.

    Only problem, Apple Inc. said NO!

    How things have changed in a few short years, for Microsoft, Intel, Dell, Nokia, RIM et al

  2. Umm, am I missing something here? There have always been two versions – at least since Apple made their phones available on all networks in the US. One that has support for CDMA and one that doesn’t. My iPhone 6 does not support CDMA and cannot be used with Sprint or Verizon. However I recently bought an iPhone SE and requested an unlocked version that can be eventually be moved to Sprint’s network.

    1. Negative, Bromaldehyde. While there have always been different versions of the iPhone for different carriers, the differences were borderline superficial in the iPhone 6s, which supported virtually all networks worldwide if unlocked.

      So, if you did like me and paid full price for the T-Mobile iPhone 7, because that was always the phone that came unlocked in case you decided to drop your carrier, you got hosed by that decision. This model still supports my current network, but the whole point of buying the unlocked phone’s been negated by throwing intel radios in the mix.

    1. I used to feel that way too but now that my carrier has pretty decent roaming plans, it’s not as much of an issue anymore. And besides, not having to swap SIM cards and let people know all the phone numbers is a bonus.

  3. Interesting. So if you buy a phone with the intel modem you do not get a CDMA compatible machine. So Apple has negotiating leverage with Intel. I do not see how they could with Qualcomm. Seems like smart buyers would demand that Qualcomm version – I would. Why fence myself in?

      1. Yes. Maybe I want to travel, maybe I switch carriers because I move to a part of the country that is still using CDMA.

        Why limit a chip. Just use Qualcomm until Intel is able to get CDMA added. I don’t know where I will be traveling, I don’t know where I might live, I want all options available to me, especially when one supplier, Qualcomm, is able to, and the other supplier, Intel, is not able to.

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