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Triumphant with its ARM chips, Apple would struggle to design its 5G modems


Initially tipped next year on the iPhone 15, the first 5G modems designed in-house by Apple would not be ready in time. Presumably plagued by development problems, the firm would instead continue to equip itself with Qualcomm.

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

If Apple impresses the entire industry with its ARM chips, especially on desktop and laptop computers, it still seems to stumble over 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 range of patents and technologies, the firm would still not be in able to launch a modem “homecapable of competing with those offered by the leading players in the sector.

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

The agreement between Apple and Qualcomm in effect until 2024

As WWCCFTech points out, if things obviously don’t go quite as planned for Apple, the firm is not likely to be caught off guard in the immediate future. Apple and Qualcomm are bound by a contract until 2024. Enough to give Apple time to get organized. As it stands, the firm will equip its next iPhone 14 with the 5G Snapdragon X65 chip, manufactured by Qualcomm, while the iPhone 15 will probably be equipped with the future Snapdragon X70 chip.

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[Company Update] Qualcomm (QCOM.O)

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

— 郭明錤 (Ming-Chi Kuo) (@mingchikuo) June 28, 2022

Note that some analysts had 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 might not materialize before 2025. An estimate that seems increasingly realistic. And that’s a shame, because the arrival of 5G modems developed by Apple could allow new optimizations on the products launched by the brand, particularly in terms of interconnection or energy efficiency.


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