Apple Plans to Equip MacBooks With In-House Cellular Modems

Apple eventually plans to build its own custom modem into cellular MacBook models that could arrive in 2028 at the earliest, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman.

Apple WWDC23 MacBook Air 15 in color lineup 230605
Apple has reportedly been working on its own modem since 2018, as it seeks to move away from Qualcomm's component currently used in iPhones. The timeframe for launching the modem has slipped several times and is now expected to be ready around 2026, and Gurman now hears that Apple has plans for the chip appearing in other Apple devices further down the line.

Writing in his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman says that Apple's custom technology aspirations include integrating an in-house modem into its system-on-a-chip (SoC), which would eventually see the launch of MacBooks with built-in cellular connectivity.

Gurman says Apple will "probably need two or three additional years to get that chip inside cellular versions of the Apple Watch and iPad – and the Mac, once the part is integrated into the company's system-on-a-chip."

Apple has explored the possibility of developing MacBooks with cellular connectivity in the past. Indeed, the company reportedly considered launching a MacBook Air with 3G connectivity, but former CEO Steve Jobs said in 2008 that Apple decided against it, since it would take up too much room in the case. An integrated SoC would solve that problem.

Gurman's latest newsletter also said some of Apple's other ongoing in-house chip projects include camera sensors, batteries, a combined Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chip that will eventually replace parts from Broadcom, Micro-LED displays for Apple devices, and a non-invasive glucose monitoring system.

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Top Rated Comments

kyjaotkb Avatar
8 months ago
Take your time, Apple. https://www.macrumors.com/2011/08/14/photos-of-a-prototype-macbook-pro-with-integrated-3g-cellular-data/
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
singularity0993 Avatar
8 months ago
Personal hotspot should be good enough for most people though.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Jeaz Avatar
8 months ago
As early as 2028? That doesn’t feel what I would call early.

Either way, I’m totally fine with my MacBook not having cellular connectivity today, as using my iPhone as hotspot works great.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
foobarbaz Avatar
8 months ago

Is it cost, space or power requirements?
It's probably the licensing cost. Apple complained that Qualcomm charges a percentage of the device price. If they complain about that on the iPhone, I imagine they really wouldn't want to pay the same percentage on a $4000 laptop.

With their own chip, they only have to pay for manufacturing and patents.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iBluetooth Avatar
8 months ago
I have been wondering for a while, why they haven't added 5G to the laptops. Is it cost, space or power requirements? But when they do, I will upgrade!
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gpat Avatar
8 months ago
It sounds like a good choice, because Apple's modems are initially going to be so behind in development, that putting them in iPhones would be a disaster. In Macbooks they wouldn't be so crucial.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)