Friends To Foes: Apple Reportedly Nixing Samsung As iPhone Chip Supplier

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Apple is reportedly reducing its reliance on Samsung Electronics for the production of memory chips used in its iPhone and iPad, a move that suggests the long-running partnership between the two tech giants, which have been waging cut-throat legal battles across the globe, is starting to wane.

According to a report from Reuters Friday, anonymous sources "with direct knowledge of the matter" said Apple is starting to scale back its chip orders from Samsung, a primary manufacturer of the A-series chips found in the iPad and iPhone. Apple instead is fulfilling its NAND and DRAM memory orders from rival chip makers including Toshiba and Elpida Memory, the sources said.

Samsung is still, however, one of the manufacturers of chips for Apple's fifth-generation iPhone, presumably called the iPhone 5, which is expected to launch next week.

[Related: Samsung Launches First Windows Phone 8 Smartphone, Vows Commitment To Microsoft's OS]

"Samsung is still on the list of initial memory chip suppliers [for new iPhones]. But Apple orders have been trending down and Samsung is making up for the reduced order from others, notably Samsung's handset business," the source told Reuters.

Samsung's handset unit uses the Exynos chips produced by its semiconductor business to fuel its own smartphones and tablets, including its new Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II. The Galaxy S III has been one of Samsung's most popular mobile devices, stealing the crown from the iPhone 4S last month to become the best-selling smartphone in the U.S.

Reuter's sources said that Apple's decision to branch off from Samsung is not the result of the messy patent infringement battle occurring between the two companies. Instead, they said, it represents a larger aim of Apple's to start diversifying its global supply chain.

Samsung last month was found guilty in the U.S. District Court of Northern California of copying a number of Apple designs while creating its own smartphones and tablets, a verdict that requires the South Korean tech giant to pay Apple $1.05 billion in damages. Apple is now seeking to ban U.S. sales of eight older Samsung smartphone models, along with its newer Galaxy S III.

Apple and Samsung did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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