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For the last several years, Apple has been working to develop its own 5G modem chip so that it won't need to rely on Qualcomm as a supplier, but according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple's efforts "may have failed."

Apple-5G-Modem-Feature-Triad.jpg

Kuo says that his "latest survey" suggests that development on the chip has stalled, which means Qualcomm would remain the exclusive supplier for 5G chips for the 2023 iPhone models. Previously, Kuo believed that Apple's 2023 iPhones would use modem chips designed in-house rather than Qualcomm chips.


Qualcomm is now expected to supply 100 percent of chips for the 2023 iPhone models, rather than just 20 percent. Kuo expects that Apple will continue to develop its own 5G chips, but it will take more time for the work to be completed and satisfactory for use in iPhones and other devices.

It is not clear why Apple will not be able to have its modem chips ready in time for the 2023 iPhone launch, but the company has been aiming to get away from Qualcomm for years now. Apple had a protracted legal battle with Qualcomm and planned to use Intel 5G chips in the 2020 iPhones, but that ultimately was not possible as Intel was not able to manufacture 5G chips that met Apple's standards.

Apple ended up settling its lawsuit with Qualcomm in 2019, and since then, has used Qualcomm 5G modems in the iPhone and iPad lineups. Since then, Apple has been developing its own modem chip, and it even purchased Intel's modem chip business to get a head start, and rumors suggested Apple was on track for a 2023 launch. Last year, Qualcomm even said that it expected to supply just 20 percent of the modem chips used in iPhones in 2023, but it sounds like Qualcomm may be producing chips for Apple for at least another two iPhone generations.

Article Link: Kuo: Apple's Work on 5G Modem Chip 'Failed,' Qualcomm to Remain Supplier for 2023 iPhones
 
Last edited:

thadoggfather

macrumors G5
Oct 1, 2007
14,457
14,164
Yes, because most companies integrate the modem into the SoC. Apple does not.

at least they ditched Intel radios. That was shady when they had mixed models QC and Intel imo.
It's not like I didnt live having an intel iPhone 7 Plus but it bothered me knowing theres one that performs better.
 
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ttyRazor

macrumors regular
Sep 24, 2019
100
139
I feel like an Apple in house radio could yield to crazy battery life. Isn't radio one of the big energy consumers, screen aside?
Most of that energy is going to putting out a strong enough signal to be received by the tower it’s connecting to. There might be some other overhead to optimize, but most of it will always be limited by signal strength, especially under noisy conditions.
 

Analog Kid

macrumors 604
Mar 4, 2003
6,994
7,103
It’s remarkable when a technology is so complex that a company with the capabilities of Apple is struggling to get it done. For all the talk recently about consolidation of market power, this is part of the reason— at the pinnacle of technology development there simply aren’t many entities capable of pulling it off.
 

jz0309

Contributor
Sep 25, 2018
5,948
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Temecula, CA
Failed is a harsh statement. Modems are extremely complex and the rumors that they would be in 2023 iPhones was bogus from my perspective anyway… and no, success in SOCs does not translate to success in modems, Apple needs time to get them “right”
 

jz0309

Contributor
Sep 25, 2018
5,948
16,441
Temecula, CA
Not surprising. Tim Cook basically threw money at the problem by buying up some patents and a 1,000 engineers from a flailing company with a very weak culture, and expected them to create magic. Srouji is smart and gives them a chance, but that’s a very tall order.
Intel got the talent from Infineon…
 
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anshuvorty

macrumors 68030
Sep 1, 2010
2,534
2,896
California, USA
So, now I am thinking...2026 in an iPhone with 2025 being the year that the modem is released on say, an iPad Pro SKU?
  • 2023: nope
  • 2024: seems unlikely, otherwise Kuo would've mentioned it
 

EugW

macrumors G4
Jun 18, 2017
11,645
9,157
Just a note: Apple's 2019 deal with Qualcomm bought them 6 years of global licensing rights, with an option to extend that for another 2 years.

With the extra 2 years, that would bring them to 2027.

I'm curious how Apple would implement its initial 5G support. Would it be in a discrete chip? Or would it be integrated into the SoC? A discrete chip would give them a lot of flexibility, although it would likely mean higher power usage, and it would mean more space used inside. If it were integrated into the SoC, that would require much more lead time.
 
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