Apple is a hardware company that strives to create the best first-party options on the market. The iPhone’s strength isn’t just the software, but also the Apple-designed A-series processor under the hood. And the company saw a huge leap ahead of Intel with the M-series chip for its Mac lineup. So it makes sense that Apple would want to keep adding to its list of proprietary hardware options.
And a 5G modem is apparently next on the list. Which, if you’ve been following the rumor mill for a few years now, is what’s been in the works for quite some time. In 2019, for instance, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expected the company to complete development by 2022 or 2023. Interestingly, speculation turned to the iPad Pro as the company’s first effort in this regard, with the device expected to launch in 2021. (In the iPhone of that year, too.)
That obviously didn’t happen.
And then, most recently, Kuo reiterated his expectation that the first Apple 5G modem would see the light of day in 2023. Which may actually come to fruition, if a new report from DigiTimes actually leads anywhere. The report says Apple is working with suppliers, including new options, to facilitate orders for in-house 5G modem chips that will launch in the iPhone lineup next year.
DigiTimes says Apple is in talks with a couple of different companies, including ASE Technology and Siliconware Precision Industries (SPIL). These companies may be tasked with packaging the new 5G modems. They will probably get the gig because of the work they have done with Qualcomm in the past, which includes packaging that company’s 5G modems.
As for the main partner working to actually manufacture the new in-house designed 5G chips, that will fall on TSMC. That will rely on the manufacturer’s 5nm process, at least for now. That will shift to 4nm process by the time mass production rolls around, with the 5G modems expected to arrive in 2023.
This has been a long time coming, so it will be good to see it finally bear fruit. And it will probably be a big deal for the company when it finally does happen.