MediaTeks first 5G modem, the Helio M70, is expected to be in devices in the first half of 2019, says companys CEO. But the company is working on an integrated 5G chipset as well, this one will arrive later near the end of the year, meaning that the first devices with it should arrive in 2020.
The M70 is a standalone modem meaning its not part of a chipset. That works quite well for MediaTeks ambitions to supply 5G modems to Apple as iPhones use external modem chips (provided by Intel most recently). Qualcomms 5G modems are external too.
A modem integrated into the chipset is preferable because it helps lower overall costs. While Apple can afford the extra money, other phone makers operate on thin margins so any cost saving is welcome.
MediaTek is preparing to shift its R&D budget towards developing 5G technology, its waiting on the right moment as the industry is in a transitional period. Investments in 5G will surpass those in 4G.