Apple Diversifies Supply Chain for Custom-Designed 5G Modem for iPhones in 2023

Apple is in preliminary talks with new suppliers about backend orders for its first in-house 5G modem chips for iPhones, according to a new report from DigiTimes.

Apple 5G Modem Feature
Apple is reportedly negotiating with ASE Technology, which owns Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE) and Siliconware Precision Industries (SPIL), to package some of its first self-designed 5G modem chips.

The report notes that ASE and SPIL have both been Qualcomm's partners for packaging 5G modem chips for iPhones, including its latest Snapdragon X65 5G modem-RF system now being manufactured at Samsung Electronics.

Apple is estimated to ship at least 200 million new iPhones in 2023, and will surely rely on multiple partners to handle backend processing of its in-house 5G modem chips and RF transceiver ICs, based on its regular supply chain management policy for its devices, the sources added.

Apple has already lined up its main chip manufacturing partner TSMC to begin producing the majority of its new in-house modem chips, which are expected to appear in the 2023 iPhone.

Apple and TSMC are currently trialing production of Apple's in-house modem designs using TSMC's 5-nanometer process, but that they will shift to the more advanced 4-nanometer technology for mass production.

TSMC is already aiming to use 4-nanometer technology for the main A-series chip in the 2022 ‌‌iPhone‌‌ lineup, with 2022 iPads and 2023 iPhones moving to 3-nanometer technology for their A-series chips.

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 that support cellular connectivity.

Top Rated Comments

FRVRandAFTR Avatar
10 months ago
After Apple's success with M1, I have high hopes for this chip.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
haunebu Avatar
10 months ago
Likely will be inferior to the Qualcomm modem, just like the last time. The Intel modem team has always been the junior varsity player, and now we see them put back into the game because Tim needs to save a few $ per iPhone.

Tim is an operations guy. He optimizes supply chains and reduces cost wherever possible.

I miss the old Apple the focused on innovation and bringing new ideas to market, rather than just profit margin.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ZebraDude Avatar
10 months ago

After Apple's success with M1, I have high hopes for this chip.
I hope you are right. :)

I have had some issues with Apple First Generation devices. The First Generation Apple Watch was the latest not ready for prime time device.

PS. I am a very happy Apple Watch with my Series 7.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
laptech Avatar
10 months ago
Apple's last attempt at home brew modem chips was a disaster and they went back to using qualcomm modem chips because they was vastly superior.

Apple tried to get Intel to produce 5G modem chips but that ended in failure as well. Then Apple buys Intels modem business.

Qualcomm hold all the good patents for modems so unless Apple has decided to pay a license fee to use some of those patents I cannot see their chip fairing well and if it does I would expect Qualcomm to come calling because they will naturally be asking 'How did Apple achieve what they achieved without using any of the patents we hold that would allow the chip to behave the way it's behaving'. No doubt there will be court cases again.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
foobarbaz Avatar
10 months ago
I wonder if there's really room for many improvements or if this is just to avoid Qualcomm licensing fees.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Wildkraut Avatar
10 months ago

I wonder if there's really room for many improvements or if this is just to avoid Qualcomm licensing fees.
Mainly to avoid fees and become more independent, maybe improve the battery usage a bit and save space, but they have to dev based on standards.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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