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According to TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple’s 5G modem will debut in 2025. The Cupertino giant has been working on its in-house modem for a few years now.
Qualcomm currently supplies Apple with 5G basebands for its entire product lineup. But the company knows Apple is developing its own cellular modem, and it will be ready sooner than later.
Apple’s 5G modem is still two years away
Kuo’s claim of Apple’s 5G modem debuting in 2025 corroborates a Bloomberg report from early 2023. Another report claimed that the iPhone SE 4 could be the first device from Apple’s stable to use its 5G modem. However, rumors suggest the phone will not debut until 2025. Apple’s transition to its 5G modem will negatively affect Qualcomm’s business.
Apple has been trying to develop a 5G modem in-house since at least 2018. A report from June 2022 revealed the company has already invested billions of dollars into this effort, but they have all been unsuccessful so far.
Until 2019, Apple sourced modem from both Intel and Qualcomm for its devices. But after Intel’s 5G modem development was not running as per schedule, Apple snubbed the company in favor of Qualcomm’s offering. This was despite the two companies engaged in a legal battle over patent infringement.
Eventually, Apple acquired Intel’s 5G modem business and signed a multi-year licensing agreement with Qualcomm. This allowed the company to work on its own 5G modem while sourcing cellular baseband from Qualcomm until then.
Apple wants to cut off Qualcomm
Apple’s 5G baseband is still in development, and a lot could change in the next two years. If the modem’s performance is not up to par or there are other issues, Apple could further delay its debut.
At the moment, it’s unclear what benefits Apple’s modem will have over that of Qualcomm. The latter is a leader in cellular baseband technology, so Apple’s team has an uphill task in front of it. But once the modem is ready, Apple will likely want to switch to it entirely instead of relying on Qualcomm for such a crucial component.