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Triumphant with its ARM chips, Apple would have a hard time designing its 5G modems

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Initially aimed at the iPhone 15 next year, Apple’s first in-house-designed 5G modems wouldn’t be ready in time. Presumably plagued by development problems, the company would instead continue to equip itself with Qualcomm.

Apple Store Fifth Avenue
Apple appears to be struggling to deliver its first in-house designed 5G modems // Source: Nathan Le Gohlisse for Frandroid

While Apple impresses the entire industry with its ARM chips, especially on desktop and laptop computers, it still seems to be stumbling upon the development of its own 5G modems. Almost three years after the high-cost acquisition of Intel’s modem division, which had allowed it to get its hands on highly qualified personnel, but also to recover a whole series of patents and technologies, the company is not yet in able to launch a modem “homeable to compete with those offered by the main players in the sector.

As a result, and as predicted by Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple would have no choice but to continue sourcing exclusively from Qualcomm to equip its future iPhone 15s, expected in 2023. be equipped, at least in part, with in-house designed solutions. The idea? Let Apple no longer depend on Qualcomm chips for only 20%. A plan that would therefore fail.

The agreement between Apple and Qualcomm in effect until 2024

As WWCCFTech points out, if things obviously don’t go as planned for Apple, the company is unlikely to be caught off guard in the foreseeable future. Apple and Qualcomm are bound by a contract until 2024. Enough to give Apple time to organize. At present, the company will equip its upcoming iPhone 14 with the 5G Snapdragon X65 chip, manufactured by Qualcomm, while the iPhone 15 will likely be equipped with the future Snapdragon X70 chip.

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[Company Update] Qualcomm (QCOM.O)

My latest survey indicates that Apple’s iPhone 5G modem chip development may have failed, so Qualcomm will remain the exclusive supplier for the new iPhone 2H23’s 5G chips, with a 100% supply share (compared to the previous estimate of the company by 20%).

– 郭明 錤 (Ming-Chi Kuo) (@mingchikuo) June 28, 2022

Note that some analysts have had a hollow nose regarding Apple’s difficulties in designing a modem chip in-house. The latter suggested a few years ago that the launch of these home modems may not materialize before 2025. An estimate that seems increasingly realistic. And it’s a shame, because the arrival of 5G modems developed by Apple could allow new optimizations on the products launched by the brand, in particular in terms of interconnection or energy efficiency.


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