Kuo: An Apple-designed 5G modem predicted to debut in the 2023 iPhone

Apple’s been working on its own cellular model technology for years now, but the first iPhone model with an Apple-designed 5G modem shouldn’t be expected before 2023 at the earliest.


STORY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says Apple modems are coming in 2023.
  • Earlier, he said iPhones with Apple modems could drop in 2022.
  • Apple’s been developing its own 5G modems for years now.

Apple-designed 5G iPhone modem due in 2023

Custom Apple chips that power the iPhone and iPad set the benchmark when it comes to sheer speed, but rival Samsung still beats Apple in terms of integration. While the iPhone’s custom A-series chips integrate the CPU, GPU, Neural engine and RAM (along with a few other parts) onto a single silicon die, Apple still uses discreet baseband chips made by Qualcomm.

How to manage 5G cellular data consumption on your iPhone

But that may change when the company finishes work on its own in-house 5G modem which could appear in the iPhone models coming down the pike in 2023, according to a research note from TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, seen by MacRumors.

We predict that the ‌iPhone‌ will adopt Apple’s own design 5G baseband chips in 2023 at the earliest. As Android sales in the high-end 5G phone market are sluggish, Qualcomm will be forced to compete for more orders in the low-end market to compensate for Apple’s order loss.

An earlier research note from the same analyst predicted that the Cupertino technology group could complete 5G modem development by 2022 or 2023.

Apple could also delay its 5G iPhone modem introduction.

Custom modems as a high-stakes game

Developing a custom chip that’s compatible with a wide variety of radio technologies and supporting a bunch of cellular network standards in use across the world today is a very expensive endeavor. For instance, rumors of Apple’s own modem date a few years back.

It’s believed the Cupertino giant’s assigned more than a thousand engineers to the project.

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Apple jumped on the 5G bandwagon with the October 2020 launch of the iPhone 12 lineup.

The handsets use Qualcomm’s 5G baseband chip following a settlement in the Apple v. Qualcomm lawsuit over patent licensing terms. Apple’s aim was to ditch Qualcomm modems in favor of Intel’s own ones. Easier said than done—soon after Intel had exited the modem business, Apple ended up acquiring the chip maker’s engineering group.

Before Qualcomm, Apple used to procure its iPhone modems from Infineon.