iPhone 5G modem reportedly going proprietary next year, and here’s why that matters

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As previously reported, Apple intends to replace Qualcomm’s cellular modems with its own 5G chipset beginning in 2023.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Apple is not only still aiming for a next-year release, but it’s also dropping a lot of clues.

Apple is famed for its secrecy, but as a change in the semiconductor market approaches, not even the Cupertino giant can conceal its actions.

According to the Wall Street Journal, there are some hints as to where Apple is going with current CPUs. As an example,

In 2019, the company bought most of Intel’s smartphone-modem business, including 2,200 employees. In San Diego, where Qualcomm is based, Apple is looking to hire about 140 people who work on developing and integrating cellular modem chips.

In 2021, Qualcomm’s CFO said that the company expects to supply 20% of the 5G modems Apple uses in its mobile devices by 2023, up from nearly 100% now.

Because of these three things, it looks like Apple is making its own 5G modems, which could be important for the company, says Wayne Lam, senior director of research at CCS Insight. This will give Apple an advantage over its competitors, says Lam.

The first is cost, says Wayne Lam. (..) Another big advantage Apple could gain is that, by integrating its own modems onto the same A-series chip that powers its phones, it could tweak them in ways that would make them faster, more efficient, and more capable than what’s possible with its current combination of its own chips and Qualcomm’s.

While creating its 5G modem seems promising for Apple—and the M chips for the Mac are a success—one expert believes Apple may struggle with designing, producing, and then testing a new wireless modem due to the lengthy process.

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