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

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.

Apple 5G Modem Feature
According to Kuo, Apple plans to include its own custom-designed 5G baseband chip starting with the launch of the 2023 iPhones "at the earliest." Apple currently relies on Qualcomm for its 5G iPhone modems and is expected to continue its reliance until it diverts to its own chip. When the diversion occurs, Qualcomm will be forced to enter new markets to compensate for the loss of orders from Apple.

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. When the supply constraints improve, MediaTek and Qualcomm will have less bargaining power over brands, resulting in significantly higher competitive pressure in the mid-to low- end market.

In March, Barclays analysts reported that Apple will include its own custom-designed 5G modem starting with the 2023 iPhone. Apple's development of its own modem, which reportedly began in early 2020, has been widely reported.

Apple-designed modems can be expected to offer faster speeds, improved latency, among other benefits compared to Qualcomm or Intel modems, which powered earlier generation iPhones.

In 2019, Apple purchased the majority of Intel's smartphone modem business, a move that helped fuel the development of Apple's own in-house modem. Apple said at the time that the purchase will "help expedite our development on future products and allow Apple to further differentiate moving forward."

Top Rated Comments

cmaier Avatar
15 months ago

Yeah, keep dreaming. Qualcomm has been making modems a long time. Apple is just starting.
No they aren’t. They bought intel’s modem business, including most of the employees.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cmaier Avatar
15 months ago

And Intel modems were not really that great.
See prior response. This isn’t intel. It’s Apple combined with Intel’s experience.


ANyway, looking forward to coming back to this thread in a couple of years. Posters will look as dumb as the folks who said Apple could never design great iphone processors out of the gate, or the folks just a year ago who insisted that Apple‘s Arm CPUs would suck for macs.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Darth Tulhu Avatar
15 months ago
Yeah, folks.

Keep underestimating Apple here.

We know how that went the last time, right?

Apple is going to eventually "build" everything themselves.

I wonder if screens are next (no more Samsung).
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kcslc Avatar
15 months ago

No they aren’t. They bought intel’s modem business, including most of the employees.
And people loved intel’s modems…
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jprmercado Avatar
15 months ago

Yeah, keep dreaming. Qualcomm has been making modems a long time. Apple is just starting.
Well, many people said something similar when the very first iPhone came out in a sea of Nokias and Blackberrys. We all know how that eventually turned out.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cmaier Avatar
15 months ago

And people loved intel’s modems…
They love Apple’s processors (which were great starting with the first one they designed from scratch), so don’t you think that Intel’s experience, combined with Apple’s excellent hardware designers, bodes well? After all, these modems are MUCH simpler than the CPUs.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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