Apple-designed iPhone 5G modems may not arrive until 2025

Apple-designed iPhone 5G modems may not arrive until 2025
Exactly one month ago today, Apple and Qualcomm announced a multi-year chip agreement in which the latter would supply the former with modems. The news was met positively by both analysts and investors, but it did come as a massive surprise.

Prior to April’s announcement, it had been reported multiple times that Apple had plans to release its own iPhone modem within the next few years. According to The Information, though, this has now been delayed until 2025. 

Apple's issues with Intel date back to 2017

As told by anonymous sources within the company, the origin of this recent delay dates back to early 2017. At the time, Apple was finalizing the design of its iPhone X and iPhone 8 devices, but the Intel modems being prepared for the smartphones still weren’t working as required despite being overhauled a total of four times in order to bring them up to the standards offered by competitor Qualcomm. 

Intel continued to miss Apple’s internal deadlines over the course of the following months and also struggled to tackle new technical issues. The situation as a whole angered Apple’s Senior VP of Hardware, Johnny Srouji, who told Intel in a meeting that this “would have never happened at Apple under my watch” if he had been in charge of the modem business.

Apple’s lack of faith in Intel combined with the uncertainty surrounding its supply of 5G modems due to Intel's inability to deliver 4G chips and the ongoing legal battle with Qualcomm ultimately pushed the Silicon Valley-based giant towards more aggressive internal targets. Specifically, its custom 5G iPhone modem was now required by 2021 at the latest. 

The issues with Intel continued throughout 2018 and ultimately reached breaking point recently when it became apparent the company wouldn’t deliver on its promise for 5G modems by the second-half of 2020. Apple, on the other hand, wasn’t capable of preparing a custom iPhone modem in time either, thus giving the company two options.

First, Apple could skip 5G for the second year running and wait for its own 5G modem in 2021, or second, it could choose to settle with Qualcomm and guarantee a 5G modem chip supply next year. And as the world found out last month, the second option was chosen. 

The Qualcomm agreement gives Apple extra time to develop custom modem

As a direct result of Apple’s settlement with Qualcomm, it’s reported that the Cupertino quickly delayed its own plans for a 5G modem. Specifically, the company is apparently telling employees that the chip is no longer required until 2025. 

Presumably, Apple is buying itself lots of time in order to create a chip that reaches its typically-high quality standards. If for whatever reason the custom iPhone modem isn’t ready by then, though, the agreement with Qualcomm does allow for a further 2-year extension if requested.

Eventually, it seems, Apple’s goal is to ditch Intel entirely as a chip supplier. Starting next year, the company will source chips solely from Qualcomm and will only use Intel modems in older 4G LTE devices which will gradually be discontinued over time.

Curiously, it was reported recently that Apple looked into buying Intel’s 5G modem business before reaching an agreement with Qualcomm. Neither company confirmed the reports at the time, but in a statement provided to The Information, the chipmaker did hint at talks. 



1. iloveapps

Posts: 909; Member since: Mar 21, 2019

This is going to be tough but it would be awesome. Just like their apple A-chips and display calibration. They’re making it more useful unlike other companies who just brag being the first without quality.

2. IT-Engineer

Posts: 579; Member since: Feb 26, 2015

Which companies brag being the first without quality? And what products are those? Cause if you say Qualcomm, they are with Quality since apple bent over for them. If you say Samsung screens, they are the best and apple is using them.

3. chris2k5

Posts: 291; Member since: Nov 17, 2012

Ahem Samsung ahem Galaxy Fold ahem Samsung fail ahem

4. sissy246

Posts: 7129; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

He is just butthurt

5. tedkord

Posts: 17478; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Any company that doesn't have the Apple logo. You have to think like him to understand - just don't try to do anything else, like walk or chew gum, at the same time.

6. TheOracle1

Posts: 2340; Member since: May 04, 2015

I opened the article to sarcastically comment that it will be "the best" and most "innovative" and the first comment I see is from an Apple Lemming. Don't they know how stupid they sound? Anyway it'll increase the number of components that Apple actually make for the iPhone to a grand total of two including the A12.

9. oldskool50 unregistered

Yes they know how stupid they sound. It just doesn't matter when you have other stupid people who think the same as you do and support you in your own stupidity.

7. oldskool50 unregistered

Dude it's a modem. and you have no idea how great Apple SoC really is, because in day to day tasks, even though Android phones benchmark at slower speed, Android phones even those with a wealth of features, still outperform the iPhone. If there was a tech who could get the firmware of the S10 to boot on the hardware of the iPhone, without using a virtual machine, I can almost guarantee the iPhone would slow to a crawl Not only do they outperform, but they have longer battery-life even with high resolutions displays.

10. oldskool50 unregistered

Samsung has 5G NOW!!! They made their own modem, which apple can't even do properly. Then they went to a company that has ZERO experience making modems. Yes that was Intel. Because they didn't want to pay $7.50 for every iPhone sold with Qualcomm technology. Now they have to pay $9. Very smart of Apple to ditch the best. a company who charges double the price for old gneretaion hardware. The XR is $750 for hardware that is 3 years old. That's why apple can have such great profits. yet you cen get a phoen with a 1440p display for half that price...BRAND NEW. Macs are still on 6th and 7th generation Intel hardware, while everyone else is on 8th and 9th generation at a lower price point. And apple wonders why their sales are going down. Services will never pull in the revenue hardware does and as apple keeps losing sales they gonna find that out.

11. iloveapps

Posts: 909; Member since: Mar 21, 2019

Mac and iphones are outdated specs and yet they are the most powerful, efficient, reliable and powerful devices around. All your pc’s and android devices are cheap and disposable for 2 years. Plan of obsolescence. Just like Samsung fold, obsolescent for just 2 days of use. Using plastic film that can easily removed and creased. Stupid idea for a bigger screen that has the ugliest notch and a very small outside screen that cost twice as iphone. And there’s no PEN!

12. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1475; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

They're so reliable that Apple only expects them to last one year! Their own words in court.

13. tedkord

Posts: 17478; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

And yet, as observed above, they get beaten regularly in real world speed tests. The fact of the matter is that even midrange phones today are more than fast enough.

15. Man_Utd

Posts: 190; Member since: Feb 03, 2015

OMG! Apple is the king of obsolescence. It's been well documented how bad they are. Goes all the way back to the iPod. Back during January earning calls, Tim Apple said how much the battery replacement deal was hurting earnings. Why was there a battery replacement deal? Because Apple was secretly trying to force people into buying new phones. Sure, Samsung isn't perfect but at least they're doing the right thing by pulling their phones when something isn't right. Samsung is way better than Apple when it comes to obsolence.

8. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1475; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

Leo!!! You said Apple would have their own modem ready next year?!? What happened?

14. tedkord

Posts: 17478; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

They've got to be cagier, and lay low for a bit. Normally they'd just steal the tech and give it a catchy name. But they've been caught too often lately, and this is high profile and from a company large enough that they couldn't just out wait them in court.

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