Apple’s next big black eye to Qualcomm may come before many expected, with the iPhone tipped to modify to a homegrown 5G modem design in 2023 consistent with a replacement analyst report. Although Apple designs many iPhone components, including the first A-series chipset, it still relies on third-party modems for smartphones.
That’s been the subject of no bit of legal battling over the years. Instead, apple and Qualcomm found themselves in court on numerous occasions, with the Cupertino firm arguing that its supplier was unfairly charging for patented tech, among other things. Qualcomm, meanwhile, countered that Apple wasn’t paying its justifiable share.
The two firms settled their differences – in legal terms, anyway – in 2019, paving the way for a multi-year deal that saw Qualcomm’s Snapdragon modems find their way into the iPhone series. That came just in time since Apple needed a 5G modem for the iPhone 12 family of handsets. However, though Apple’s smartphones today may use Qualcomm silicon, the corporate has been performing on its alternatives within the meantime.
With the corporate having acquired the remnants of Intel’s 5G modem business, Apple execs are clear internally that the longer term of its products includes homegrown cellular tech. Leaked details from a government building meeting at Cupertino saw the project described because the next “key strategic transition,” much within the same way that shifting to in-house SoC designs – first for iOS devices, then more recently for macOS – has given Apple far more control over its hardware and software.
What wasn’t clear was just how rapidly Apple thought it could oust Qualcomm’s modems. The Snapdragon X55 is employed within the iPhone 12. It had been expected that the X60 would feature within the 2021 iPhone line-up, with the 2022 iPhone using the X65. The 2023 iPhone shifting to what’s expected to be called the Snapdragon X70. a replacement report, however, suggests which will not be the case.
A note to investors from Barclays analysts Blayne Curtis and Thomas O’Malley, MacRumors reports, claims the Apple 5G modem will be ready in time for 2023’s iPhones. It tipped TSMC because the likely manufacturer nods to Broadcom and Qorvo as likely beneficiaries from Qualcomm being marginalized.
If true, it’s an aggressive roadmap, though previous leaks have suggested Apple aims to possess the modems ready by 2022. Given the time interval involved in having chipsets prepared before device design finalization and manufacturing beginning, though, that seems fairly tenuous. Apple could, of course, choose a rather less high-profile launch of its first designs.
Rather than debuting the in-house 5G modems in its flagship iPhone range, the corporate could prefer to do so in other products like MacBooks. that might address a longstanding request from macOS users for integrated cellular connectivity in their laptops, also as presumably being a smaller audience of buyers to satisfy. Apple could also enjoy slightly more accommodating factors around power consumption, size, and antenna placement within the larger form-factor of a MacBook. With its bigger battery than would be found in an iPhone.