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
32 months 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
32 months 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: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jdb8167 Avatar
32 months 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
32 months ago
Any part of the stack you do not control controls you.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
michalm Avatar
32 months 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
32 months 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)

Popular Stories

iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

iOS 18 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Friday April 12, 2024 11:11 am PDT by
iOS 18 is expected to be the "biggest" update in the iPhone's history. Below, we recap rumored features and changes for the iPhone. iOS 18 is rumored to include new generative AI features for Siri and many apps, and Apple plans to add RCS support to the Messages app for an improved texting experience between iPhones and Android devices. The update is also expected to introduce a more...
iGBA Feature

Game Boy Emulator for iPhone Now Available in App Store Following Rule Change [Removed]

Sunday April 14, 2024 8:06 am PDT by
A week after Apple updated its App Review Guidelines to permit retro game console emulators, a Game Boy emulator for the iPhone called iGBA has appeared in the App Store worldwide. The emulator is already one of the top free apps on the App Store charts. It was not entirely clear if Apple would allow emulators to work with all and any games, but iGBA is able to load any Game Boy ROMs that...
top stories 13apr2024

Top Stories: M4 Mac Roadmap Leaked, New iPads in Second Week of May, and More

Saturday April 13, 2024 6:00 am PDT by
Apple's hardware roadmap was in the news this week, with things hopefully firming up for a launch of updated iPad Pro and iPad Air models next month while we look ahead to the other iPad models and a full lineup of M4-based Macs arriving starting later this year. We also heard some fresh rumors about iOS 18, due to be unveiled at WWDC in a couple of months, while we took a look at how things ...
new best buy blue

Best Buy Opens Up Sitewide Sale With Record Low Prices on M3 MacBook Air, iPad, and Much More

Saturday April 13, 2024 7:41 am PDT by
Best Buy this weekend has a big sale on Apple MacBooks and iPads, including new all-time low prices on the M3 MacBook Air, alongside the best prices we've ever seen on MacBook Pro, iPad, and more. Some of these deals require a My Best Buy Plus or My Best Buy Total membership, which start at $49.99/year. In addition to exclusive access to select discounts, you'll get free 2-day shipping, an...
iPhone 16 Camera Lozenge 2 Colors

iPhone 16 Plus Rumored to Come in These 7 Colors

Wednesday April 10, 2024 3:52 am PDT by
Apple's iPhone 16 Plus may come in seven colors that either build upon the existing five colors in the standard iPhone 15 lineup or recast them in a new finish, based on a new rumor out of China. According to the Weibo-based leaker Fixed focus digital, Apple's upcoming larger 6.7-inch iPhone 16 Plus model will come in the following colors, compared to the colors currently available for the...
apple silicon feature joeblue

Macs to Get AI-Focused M4 Chips Starting in Late 2024

Thursday April 11, 2024 10:10 am PDT by
Apple will begin updating its Mac lineup with M4 chips in late 2024, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The M4 chip will be focused on improving performance for artificial intelligence capabilities. Last year, Apple introduced the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max chips all at once in October, so it's possible we could see the M4 lineup come during the same time frame. Gurman says that the entire...