iPhone 12 Demand Helps Boost Qualcomm's 5G Modem Revenue, But Apple Working on Own 'High-End' Modem

The popularity of iPhone 12 models has led to soaring demand for Qualcomm's 5G modems and RF chips, helping to propel the chipmaker's revenues past that of rival Broadcom in the third quarter of 2020, according to Taiwanese research firm TrendForce.

qualcommx55
Qualcomm reported $4.9 billion revenue in the third quarter, a 37.6% increase over the year-ago quarter, compared to $4.6 billion for Broadcom. TrendForce said Qualcomm's "remarkable performance" is partly attributed to re-entering Apple's supply chain earlier this year, after the two companies settled a lawsuit last year.

Apple's rekindled partnership with Qualcomm might not be for good, however, as Bloomberg recently reported that Apple has started developing its own cellular modem for future iPhones. The info was reportedly shared by Apple's senior vice president of hardware technologies Johny Srouji at a town hall meeting with Apple employees, and the move was expected after Apple purchased the majority of Intel's smartphone modem business last year.

In a research note shared with MacRumors today, Barclays analysts Blayne Curtis, Thomas O'Malley, Tim Long, and their associates provided some additional details about Apple's in-house modem, claiming that the chip will be "very much a high-end modem" with support for ultra-fast mmWave 5G, as with Qualcomm's Snapdragon X55 modem in iPhone 12 models.

"We believe that Apple has actually been working on this 5G modem for over a year and that this is very much a high-end modem, including support and chipsets for mmWave," the analysts said. "We do not believe they are [working] on any RF components beyond the mmWave."

mmWave is a set of 5G frequencies that promise ultra-fast speeds at short distances, making it best suited for dense urban areas. By comparison, sub-6GHz 5G is generally slower than mmWave, but the signals travel further, better serving suburban and rural areas. mmWave support on iPhone 12 models is limited to the United States.

As part of their settlement in 2019, Apple and Qualcomm announced that they had reached a multiyear chipset supply agreement, so it likely that it will be at least a few more years until Apple's in-house modem appears in devices.

Tags: Qualcomm, 5G

Top Rated Comments

FocusAndEarnIt Avatar
10 months ago
This is not news.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Hyperchaotic Avatar
10 months ago

Well, in the lawsuit that was recently settled between the two companies, Apple agreed to license their chips for 5 years. We won’t be seeing Apple modems for quite some time, regardless of when they are actually ready.
Hmm, we'll see. The 5 year license doesn't necessarily require Apple to buy a certain number of QC modems every year and Apple will probably aim for some overlap between their own modems and the license expiring to make sure they have options.

In any case, developing, testing and certifying a modem does take time but I'm sure they're keen to get to enjoy that close integration they could have with an in-house design..

Then when they start using their own modem, QC will sue for patents ofcourse.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
haunebu Avatar
10 months ago
Intel's modem team, which Apple acquired, was unable to produce a working 5G modem. To think that they'll suddenly be able to produce a working 5G modem and compete with Qualcomm is hilarious. Qualcomm is probably 5+ years ahead in this space. Will Apple be able to catch up? You never know... but it won't be for several years at least.

In the meantime, Qualcomm keeps pushing the envelope. May the most innovative team win.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Eso Avatar
10 months ago
Well, in the lawsuit that was recently settled between the two companies, Apple agreed to license their chips for 5 years. We won’t be seeing Apple modems for quite some time, regardless of when they are actually ready.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PickUrPoison Avatar
10 months ago

Maybe there is some cross licensing going on. Wouldn’t surprise me.
Not just cross licensing, but Apple executed a six-year license of (presumably all of) Qualcomm’s IP last year, along with the chipset supply agreement, as part of the settlement agreement that ended all litigation between the parties worldwide.

Qualcomm has only a portion of the standards-essential patents—other major IP holders include Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei—but they do have the most valuable afaik. Apple’s 5G patents, which mostly come from the Intel deal, will save them money through cross licensing with those other 5G patent holders.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Tec_Amigo Avatar
10 months ago
When will we get 5G on laptops and tablets?
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

qualcommx55

iPhone 12 Models Use Qualcomm's X55 Modem

Wednesday October 21, 2020 12:24 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone 12 lineup appears to be equipped with Qualcomm's Snapdragon X55 modem, which is in line with rumors that we heard about the new devices prior to their launch. An iPhone 12 teardown video on Chinese social networking site Weibo gives a close look at the L-shaped logic board and the modem chip. The X55 offers support for both 5G mmWave networks and 5G Sub-6GHz networks, along ...
Apple 5G Modem Feature

Apple-Designed 5G Modem Said to Debut in All 2023 iPhone Models

Thursday March 11, 2021 7:35 am PST by
Apple's custom-designed 5G cellular modem will likely debut in all 2023 iPhone models, according to Barclays analysts Blayne Curtis and Thomas O'Malley. In a supplier-focused research note shared with MacRumors, the analysts said chipmakers Qorvo and Broadcom should be among the companies that benefit from the shift to Apple's in-house solution. Fast Company's Mark Sullivan and Bloomberg's...
qualcomm snapdragon x60 5g

iPhone 13 Lineup Expected to Use Qualcomm's Snapdragon X60 Modem With Several 5G Improvements

Wednesday February 24, 2021 8:10 am PST by
Apple's next-generation iPhone 13 lineup will use Qualcomm's Snapdragon X60 5G modem, with Samsung to handle manufacturing of the chip, according to DigiTimes. Built on a 5nm process, the X60 packs higher power efficiency into a smaller footprint compared to the 7nm-based Snapdragon X55 modem used in iPhone 12 models, which could contribute to longer battery life. With the X60 modem, iPhone...
qualcomm snapdragon x60 5g

Apple's Roadmap for Using Qualcomm's 5G Modems in Future Products Revealed, Including X60 in 2021

Wednesday October 21, 2020 2:34 pm PDT by
In April 2019, Apple and Qualcomm announced an agreement to dismiss a long-running legal battle between the two companies worldwide, paving the way for Apple to use Qualcomm's 5G modems for its iPhone 12 lineup and beyond. Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon X60 modem is built on a 5nm process A teardown video shared earlier today revealed that Apple is using Qualcomm's Snapdragon X55 modem in...
Apple 5G Modem Feature

Kuo: Apple-Designed 5G Modem May Debut in iPhones as Early as 2023

Sunday May 9, 2021 10:02 pm PDT by
Apple plans to adopt its own custom-designed 5G baseband chip starting with the 2023 iPhones, meaning it'll no longer need to rely on Qualcomm to supply the 5G cellular modem for the iPhone, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in an investors note obtained by MacRumors. According to Kuo, Apple plans to include its own custom-designed 5G baseband chip starting with the launch of the 2023...
qualcomm iphone xs

FTC Abandons Antitrust Lawsuit Against Qualcomm

Monday March 29, 2021 3:22 pm PDT by
The United States Federal Trade Commission is abandoning its antitrust lawsuit against Qualcomm, reports Bloomberg. The FTC will not seek a Supreme Court review of a 2020 federal appeals court decision that determined that Qualcomm's licensing practices are fair and not anticompetitive. In a statement, FTC chairwoman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter said that the FTC's conclusion that Qualcomm...
Screen Shot 4

Bloomberg: Apple Hiring Engineers to Work on 6G Wireless Connectivity

Thursday February 18, 2021 4:21 am PST by
Apple is hiring engineers to work on next-generation 6G wireless technology, based on job listings spotted by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The listings are for positions at Apple's offices in Silicon Valley and San Diego, where the company works on wireless technology development and chip design, according to Gurman's report. "You will have the unique and rewarding opportunity to craft next...
Screen Shot 4

Apple Reportedly Planning Substantial Increase of Shipments for 5G mmWave iPhone Models in 2021

Friday April 9, 2021 1:05 am PDT by
Apple is expected to substantially increase shipments of mmWave enabled iPhone models in 2021 thanks to the increased demand and improved global support for the newer technology, according to DigiTimes. Apple currently only offers mmWave-enabled iPhone 12 models in the United States and is likely to hold off on offering the option to more countries until the technology is more widely...
Screen Shot 4

Kuo: iPhone 13 5G mmWave Models to Be Available in More Countries

Monday April 19, 2021 12:07 am PDT by
Apple is planning to increase the availability of 5G mmWave capable iPhone models to more countries around the world with the release of the iPhone 13 later this year, offering even more customers access to the faster and newer technology, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a research note obtained by MacRumors, Kuo says that infrastructure for mmWave technology will increase...
Huawei Logo

Huawei to Negotiate Royalties From Apple and Samsung for 5G Technology

Tuesday March 16, 2021 4:37 am PDT by
Huawei will begin negotiating for royalties from Apple and Samsung for access to its portfolio of patents on 5G technology (via Bloomberg). Huawei is the owner of the world's largest collection of 5G patents and is seeking to charge other large tech companies a "reasonable" fee for access to them, creating a substantial new source of revenue. Huawei's Chief Legal Officer, Song Liuping,...