Qualcomm’s Q3 earnings report might indicate a delay for Apple’s upcoming 5G iPhones, with the company highlighting a “partial impact from the delay of a global 5G flagship phone launch” for its fourth quarter projections (which covers July, August, and September earnings).
Looking at the calendar of upcoming phone releases, it’s hard to imagine that Qualcomm is talking about any device other than the upcoming 5G iPhones, which are expected to arrive this fall. Typically, Apple releases its new iPhone in September, and it’s one of the few upcoming devices that would sell in large enough numbers that Qualcomm might need to disclose the material impact on an earnings call. There are already rumors circulating of delays for Apple’s 5G lineup due to production slowdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an interview with Reuters, chief financial officer Akash Palkhiwala indicated that the delay likely wouldn’t be too long for the unnamed phone, describing it as “a slight delay that pushes some of the units out from the September quarter to the December quarter for us.” (Qualcomm’s December quarter covers the months of October, November, and December, so if the phone was slated for September, it might only be delayed into the following month.)
Apple and Qualcomm famously made peace last year in a $4.5 billion settlement that saw Apple regain Qualcomm’s services as a 5G modem supplier for its products after years of legal battles over patent disputes. Apple is expected to introduce Qualcomm’s 5G modems in the 2020 iPhone lineup as its first products to support the next-generation networking technology.
Qualcomm also announced as part of its Q3 earnings that it’s reached a similar resolution to its patent dispute with Huawei, with the Chinese company agreeing to pay $1.8 billion in a settlement over licensing for Qualcomm’s wireless technology patents.