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Intel LTE poised to join upcoming Galaxy S5 family

The chipmaker -- not known for its presence in mobile devices -- is close to reaching a deal to supply LTE chips for some members of the upcoming Galaxy S5 family.

Samsung is expected to unveil its new flagship Android phone, the Galaxy S5, during Mobile World Congress on Monday at one of its Unpacked events.
Stephen Shankland/CNET
BARCELONA, Spain -- At least one device in Samsung's Galaxy S5 family of smartphones could ship with Intel inside.

The Santa Clara, Calif., chipmaker is close to signing a deal with Samsung to provide LTE chips for one of the variations of the Galaxy S5 that will hit the market in the coming months, an Intel spokesman told CNET.

Hermann Eul, head of Intel's mobile chip business, had originally told CNET that his company would supply LTE chips for some models of the GS5. He had declined to provide further details about the chip or where those particular versions of the Galaxy S5 would ship.

However, Intel later clarified that it isn't supplying LTE for the flagship device but for one of the Galaxy S5 variations that will be announced in a few months.

Join us for live coverage of Samsung's Galaxy S5 event.

Although the Galaxy S5 is the flagship, Samsung has traditionally released additional variations that are lower cost -- such as the Galaxy S4 Mini -- or have better cameras, such as the Galaxy S4 Zoom. It's one of those upcoming devices that will include Intel's LTE processor, assuming the deal gets signed.

Presumably, Samsung will include Intel's wireless chip in certain devices that use its own Exynos applications processor. Other models -- including the flagship S5 being shown tonight -- will use Qualcomm chips. With the flagship Galaxy S4, the US version used a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, while global versions shipped with Samsung's application processor.

Samsung will unveil its newest flagship phone during an event Monday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The Galaxy S5 is one of the most anticipated smartphones of the year, and the number of rumors flooding the market is on par with an Apple launch. Already, Samsung has introduced two new smartwatches that run on the Tizen operating system instead of Android. CNET will bring you full coverage from the event later Monday.

For Intel, the move by Samsung is a significant win. The Santa Clara, Calif., dominates the market for PC and server chips, but it has struggled in smartphones. Virtually every mobile device runs on chips based on a design by rival ARM Holdings, created by companies such as Qualcomm and Samsung, with Intel left to compete for scraps. Intel has said 2014 will be a better year for its smartphone business, but whether that's the case remains to be seen.

Providing wireless chips to Samsung is one way the company could get a bigger footprint in mobile, even if its processor is used in one of the variations and not the main flagship GS5. Intel bought Infineon's wireless chip technology a couple years ago, and it recently launched 4G LTE chips. While it has struggled with application processors, or the chips that serve as the brain of mobile devices, it's netting many wins for its technology that connects mobile devices to a wireless network.

It unveiled new chips and talked about its progress during a press conference earlier Monday at Mobile World Congress.

"The interest in LTE is high," Eul said. "Everybody wants an alternative [to Qualcomm]."

He added that customers are also looking for the pricing, power consumption, and chip compactness that Intel can provide.

Correction 7:03 a.m. PT: The story and headline have been updated to clarify that Intel is close to signing a deal to supply LTE technology to Samsung, not that its chips are already in a device.