Apple could make its own iPhone modem and ditch Qualcomm for good
Apple is planting new flowers in its walled garden. I mean, the company is reportedly designing more in-house chips to reduce its reliance on third-party chipmakers like Qualcomm (QCOM).
The Cupertino tech giant's M-series processors have been all the rage in the computing world since they first appeared on the MacBook Air last year. But while Apple has taken the core of laptops and tablets away from Intel, other organs are still made by other companies. We all know that Apple doesn't like to rely on non-Apple products.
Ming-chi Kuo, an Apple analyst, said earlier this year that the company, led by Tim Cook, would develop its own 5G modem, a chip that connects to cellular networks and replaces the Qualcomm modems currently on pads and iPhones.Mr. Kuo seemed unsure of the exact timing but said the exchange would take place "at the earliest" in 2023.
Apple is close to striking a deal with TSMC to release a 5G iPhone modem in 2023, according to a new report from Nikkei Asia. Citing unnamed sources, the report said Apple is building 5G modems using millimeter wave technology and its power management chips using 4-nanometer molds to make sure everything runs smoothly.
The split between Apple and Qualcomm is well documented. The two tech giants have been locked in a long-running battle. Apple is taking the chipmaker to court, claiming it is "double-dipping" by charging "unreasonable" royalties on modem chips in addition to licensing fees. The two companies eventually settled all ongoing litigation and agreed to a six-year licensing agreement.
It was not a happy reunion. Just months after settling a modem dispute with Qualcomm, Apple bought Intel's smartphone modem business for $1 billion, signaling its plans to build its own. Apple is expected to use Qualcomm chips in its upcoming iPhones and then quickly phase them out. Qualcomm, which makes modems (and other chips) for most smartphones, says it expects to account for only 20% of iPhone modem orders two years from now.
By using its modem, Apple can keep a close eye on the quality and supply of its chips. Maintaining internal control also allows better integration of Apple's product range for faster speeds and lower delays. I dream that one day the MacBook will be standard for 5G cellular connections.
Having embarrassed Intel with its latest M-series processors, Apple now has another chance to prove it can handle things on its own -- if only it can handle more potential legal disputes.