Apple iPhone 8 May Lack Gigabit LTE Due To Legal Spat With Qualcomm

All of the major wireless carriers in the United States have been upgrading their networks and trying to obtain more spectrum in attempts to offer the fastest and most robust connectivity. The next big thing is 1 gigabit downloads. Unfortunately for Apple and fans of the iPhone, a legal dispute with Qualcomm could leave the iPhone 8 behind the competition in this regard.

Qualcomm sells an LTE modem chipset for smartphones that is capable of downloading content at up to 1Gbps. Intel is currently working on a modem chipset of its own that will offer the same performance, but it does not look like it will be ready in time for Apple to start mass producing its next flagship handset. That leaves Apple in a bit of a sticky situation.

iPhone 7 Plus

One of the problems for Apple is that it does not like to lean on a single supplier for any particular component. However, the bigger issue that Apple and Qualcomm are currently locked in horns in a legal dispute over patents. Back in January, Apple sued Qualcomm for what amounts to extortion, claiming the semiconductor company withheld $1 billion in promised rebates related to licensing agreements. Apple further accused Qualcomm of "charging for royalties they have nothing to do with."

The lawsuit came just days after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit of its own against Qualcomm, alleging it was using anticompetitive practices to strong arm companies such as Apple into doing business.

"Qualcomm recognized that any competitor that won Apple's business would become stronger, and used exclusivity to prevent Apple from working with and improving the effectiveness of Qualcomm's competitors," the FTC stated in its lawsuit.

In response to all of this, Qualcomm recently sued Apple's iPhone suppliers for patent infringement. It even requested an import ban on iPhone  devices into the U.S., which if granted could potentially cost Apple tens of billions of dollars in lost revenue.

It remains to be seen how this ongoing legal dispute between the two companies will affect the iPhone 8, if at all. What we do know, however, is that AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon have all been talking up 1Gbps speeds. If the iPhone 8 gets left behind, it would be a huge disadvantage in the smartphone war.