Apple to Discontinue Custom 5G Modem Development, Claim Reports

Apple is discontinuing in-house modem development after several unsuccessful attempts to perfect its own custom 5G modem chip, according to unconfirmed reports coming out of Asia.

Apple 5G Modem Feature Triad
According to the operator of news aggregator account "yeux1122" on the Naver blog, supply chain sources related to Apple's 5G modem departments claim that the company's attempts to develop its own modem have failed so far, and that Apple is in the process of winding down its years-long investment in the project. Separately, the leaker known as @Tech_Reve today said they had heard similar reports from a Japanese supply chain source.

It's too early to say if the latest reports are accurate, but according to a September Wall Street Journal report, Apple's attempts to develop its own modem chip have been hampered by major issues related to unrealistic goals, an inadequate understanding of the challenges involved, and unusable prototypes.

Apple's plan to design its own in-house modem led to the hiring of thousands of engineers: Apple acquired the majority of Intel's smartphone modem business in 2019, and as it filled the project's ranks with Intel engineers and others hired from Qualcomm, company executives set a goal to have the modem chip ready for fall 2023.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reported that Apple was continuing to run into troubles in its attempt to develop a 5G modem to replace Qualcomm's 5G modems in the iPhone and other products. The modem chip launch was said to have been postponed until the end of 2025 or early 2026, but Apple was reportedly still planning to introduce the technology in a version of the low-cost iPhone SE.

Development on a modem chip was said to be in the early stages, and it "may lag behind the competition by years." One version in development does not support faster mmWave technology, and Apple has also run into issues with the Intel code that it has been working with. Rewrites have been required, and adding new features has been causing existing features to break, plus Apple has to be careful not to infringe on Qualcomm patents while developing the chip.

Despite delays, the company was thought to be continuing development because it is eager to end its expensive deal with Qualcomm. In 2017, Apple sued Qualcomm over alleged anticompetitive practices and $1 billion in unpaid royalty rebates. The two companies settled the lawsuit in 2019.

Apple's first modem chip was expected to be a standalone chip, but the company hoped to eventually develop a system-on-a-chip that would also cut out suppliers like Broadcom and give it more control over component development.

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Top Rated Comments

toobravetosave Avatar
26 weeks ago
ram upgrades should probably cover the cost of such a large venture failing completely
Score: 61 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dominiongamma Avatar
26 weeks ago

So now please focus on the Apple Car and at least finish that.
if they can’t make a credit card work the car isn’t happening
Score: 45 Votes (Like | Disagree)
apparatchik Avatar
26 weeks ago
Maybe not directly by Apple but Qualcomm sure could use some competition. They’re essentially a monopoly on high-end 5G modems.
Score: 43 Votes (Like | Disagree)
urahara Avatar
26 weeks ago

Trillion dollar company can’t do something like a simple 5g modem hmmm
Have you thought that there is IP there, which they need to work around to avoid paying fines. And maybe the alternative ways are either also under IP or they are not that efficient from the user perspective or worth investment from the business perspective. So it’s not about ‘can’t’, but if there is everything fine from legal and if it makes sence from business perspective.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ksec Avatar
26 weeks ago
Time to dig out all the Macrumors comments

Apple can move mountains....

Apple made the best CPU in the world beating even Intel, you think they cant do 5G modem?

Apple's modem will be coming in 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025.......

Apple dont need to pay a single dollar to Qualcomm once they make their own modem.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
obviouslogic Avatar
26 weeks ago

Yeah poor Apple. They are too greedy to pay for parts from companies that actually know what they are doing.
Umm, that makes zero sense. Greedy companies worry about their bottom line over all else. A greedy company would prefer to buy the cheapest, off the shelf parts to build their devices, rather than invest billions in developing their own technologies.

Apple doesn’t bring things in house because of their bottom line, they do it, because they want to be able to control their own product road maps, part of which means relying less and less on 3rd party components.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)