Apple-Designed 5G Modem to Be Separate From A-Series Chip, Again Rumored to Debut in 2023 iPhones

Apple will debut its rumored custom-designed 5G modem in 2023's iPhone models and the component will not be integrated into the device's A-series chip, DigiTimes reports.

Apple 5G Modem Feature
In paywalled report published earlier today, sources speaking to DigiTimes said that 2022 will be the last year when Qualcomm supplies all of the modems in ‌iPhone‌ models. Thereafter, iPhones are expected to begin featuring 5G baseband modem chips designed by Apple itself.

The 5G modem that Apple has developed for its 2023 ‌iPhone‌ models is said to be separate from its A-series chip, tentatively called the "A17." This stands in contrast to the initial Android devices that are looking to feature custom modems, which reportedly intend to integrate both the cellular processor (CP) and application processor (AP) directly into the device's System on Chip (SoC).

TSMC, the Taiwanese company that currently supplies all of Apple's custom silicon SoCs, is believed to be preparing to supply Apple with its custom-designed 5G baseband modem.

At its investor day earlier this week, Qualcomm said that it expects to supply just 20 percent of Apple's modem chips in 2023, suggesting that Apple will self-supply up to 80 percent of the 5G modem chips required for iPhones starting in 2023.

It is not unreasonable to speculate that the remaining 20 percent supplied by Qualcomm will be in older or entry-level devices in the 2023 ‌iPhone‌ lineup. On the other hand, the remaining 20 percent could also include devices made for regions where Apple's 5G modem is not supported.

Apple is believed to have kickstarted the work on its own in-house modem chips, with the aim of moving away from Qualcomm, by acquiring Intel's modem chip business in 2019.

The report lines up with previous rumors that said that Apple's modem chip will be ready to launch in 2023.

Top Rated Comments

wanha Avatar
2 weeks ago

it took apple less time to build intel-beating CPUs than in took to build damn cellular modem. curious as to why,
lol wut?

Apple bought PA Semi in 2009. The Intel beating CPUs came out in 2020. Duration: 11 years.

Apple bought Intel's modem business in 2019. It's only been 2 years...
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LeadingHeat Avatar
2 weeks ago

DigiTimes, really? At least their "fingers in the air" statement sort of makes sense, the first generation won't be integrated in the SOC because Apple has already planned m2 launching in 2022 and m3 CPUs launching in 2023, but the second generation modems will integrate into m4 around 2024. That's how CPU design works and how far ahead they plan.
Unless they’re also planning to include it in their MacBook lineup… then it would make sense to keep it separate so it’s easily addable to different systems and chips.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jdb8167 Avatar
2 weeks ago

it took apple less time to build intel-beating CPUs than in took to build damn cellular modem. curious as to why,
Because 5G cellular modems are very hard to get right. They are incredibly complex and have a lot of analog components. Apple has been building their own SoCs since 2012 and they weren't comfortable to replace notebook CPUs until 2020. They can't do the same gradual learning process with the 5G modem. It has to work the first time with all the features meeting international specifications. Can you imagine the disaster if Apple's 5G modem doesn't work well on Apple's flagship iPhones?
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cal6n Avatar
2 weeks ago
Any part of the stack you do not control controls you.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
michalm Avatar
2 weeks ago

it took apple less time to build intel-beating CPUs than in took to build damn cellular modem. curious as to why,
5G modems are a licensing minefield with Qualcomm punishing everyone for even the smallest misstep. Bear in mind that for the CPUs, Apple partially founded ARM and they are licensed to do whatever they desire.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Abazigal Avatar
2 weeks ago
it took apple less time to build intel-beating CPUs than in took to build damn cellular modem. curious as to why,
The challenge is likely working around Qualcomm patents.

I find this move timely. On one hand, it should improve Apple’s margins significantly by either reducing the IP fees Apple pays out (down from $90 to $20), though I would impressed if Apple is able to circumvent the fees to Qualcomm altogether.

The second is that the less Qualcomm earns from Apple, the less money it has for R&D, and the slower it will be able to innovate relative to Apple. Which again is typically how most downward spirals begin.

The prospects of an Apple-owned satellite beaming data to Apple-designed modems is also a very appealing one.

Bring it on, Apple!
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

Apple 5G Modem Feature Triad

TSMC to Begin Producing Apple-Designed 5G Modems for iPhones in 2023

Tuesday November 23, 2021 7:37 pm PST by
Apple's main chip manufacturing partner TSMC will beginning producing Apple's first in-house 5G modem chips for the iPhone in 2023, according to a report from Nikkei Asia. The move, which has been under development for several years and enhanced by Apple's 2019 acquisition of the majority of Intel's modem business, will allow Apple to shift away from Qualcomm as a supplier for the important chips ...
Apple 5G Modem Feature Triad

Qualcomm Expecting to Supply Just 20% of 2023 iPhone Modems As Apple Prepares to Launch Its Own Chips

Tuesday November 16, 2021 9:18 am PST by
Qualcomm is preparing for the launch of Apple's own modem chips, which will cut into Qualcomm's modem business starting in 2023. At today's Investor Day event, Qualcomm CFO Akash Palkhiwala said that Qualcomm expects to supply just 20 percent of Apple's modem chips in 2023. If that's an accurate estimate, it means that 2022 will be the last year that Qualcomm enjoys a modem monopoly in...
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...
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...
qualcommx55

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

Friday December 18, 2020 9:35 am PST by
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. 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....
qualcommx55

Apple Developing In-House Modem That Will Eventually Replace Qualcomm Chips

Thursday December 10, 2020 4:22 pm PST by
Apple is now developing its own cellular modem that will be used in future devices and that will eventually replace modem components sourced from Qualcomm, reports Bloomberg. The information was shared by Apple's senior vice president of hardware technologies Johny Srouji at a town hall meeting with Apple employees."This year, we kicked off the development of our first internal cellular...
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 x65

Qualcomm's Snapdragon X65 Modem Upgraded With Wider mmWave Coverage Ahead of Inclusion in 2022 iPhones

Wednesday May 19, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
Qualcomm today announced it has upgraded its Snapdragon X65 5G modem with improved power efficiency and support for wider mmWave carriers, a key requirement ahead of the rollout of 5G mmWave networks in China. Specifically, the modem now supports wider 200MHz carrier bandwidth in the mmWave spectrum and mmWave in standalone (SA) mode, while new power-saving technologies part of Qualcomm 5G...
qualcomm snapdragon x65

Qualcomm CEO Outlines Plans to Compete With Apple Silicon, Handle Apple's Shift to In-House Modems

Friday July 2, 2021 8:40 am PDT by
Qualcomm Chief Executive Cristiano Amon believes that Qualcomm will provide laptop chips that can compete with Apple silicon by next year and has explained how the company views Apple's expected transition to its own custom modems. Speaking to Reuters, Amon said that Qualcomm is capable of having the best chip on the market, thanks to a team of chip architects who previously worked for Apple ...
qualcomm snapdragon x65 10 gigabit 5g

Qualcomm Debuts World's First 10 Gigabit 5G Modem, Destined for 2022 iPhones

Tuesday February 9, 2021 4:30 am PST by
Qualcomm today introduced the Snapdragon X65, the world's first 10 Gigabit 5G modem and antenna system for smartphones, enabling theoretical data speeds up to 10 gigabits per second. Apple will likely use the Snapdragon X65 in 2022 iPhones. While real-world download speeds will likely remain far below the peak of 10 gigabits per second, devices equipped with the Snapdragon X65 should see...