Intel has pulled out of the 5G smartphone race, saying it won't be producing a 5G modem anymore. 

The revelation came overnight as part of what seems like a choreographed move. Qualcomm - who previously made modems for the iPhone before Intel - and Apple had been in court, starting to contest a billion-dollar legal case over the cost of patents that Apple has to pay license fees for. 

Then, came the news yesterday that Qualcomm and Apple had settled out of court - check out more on that in our in-depth story. It was to everyone's surprise - the run-up to the case had been bitter. The announcement was followed a few hours later by Intel's brief release

Intel says it "will continue to meet current customer commitments for its existing 4G smartphone modem product line, but does not expect to launch 5G modem products in the smartphone space, including those originally planned for launches in 2020."

Yep, that's the iPhone. 

Qualcomm is the big winner here - Apple was over a barrel. Intel had developed a 5G modem thought to be set for the 2020 iPhone XII (iPhone 12), but rumours have been swirling for months that Intel was having problems and probably wouldn't be able to produce the quantity and total network compatibility required.

It was certainly clear to those with even a passing interest that Intel was way behind Qualcomm, Samsung and Huawei in producing 5G modem parts. "We are very excited about the opportunity in 5G...but in the smartphone modem business it has become apparent that there is no clear path to profitability and positive returns,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan. 

So deep was the rift with Qualcomm that even Huawei spied an opportunity to sell Apple 5G modems. In the end, though, Apple went with the only realistic option as part of a six-year agreement. 

Intel's CEO Bob Swan will face the music from investors in its first quarter earnings call on 25 April. 

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