According to a recent report by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple’s work on a custom 5G modem for the iPhone 15 may already have “failed”.


Following on from its work on Apple silicon, Apple is said to be working for over a year on a custom 5G modem to be rolled out in all iPhone 15 models in 2023. Aiming to break away from Qualcomm, Apple is said to have started the work by acquiring Intel’s modem chip business in 2019.

The 5G modem that Apple has been developing for its 2023 iPhone models is said to be separate from its A-series chip, tentatively dubbed the “A17.” TSMC, the Taiwanese company that currently supplies all of Apple’s custom silicon SoCs, is also said to be preparing to supply Apple with its custom 5G baseband modem.

Now, Kuo claims that Apple’s efforts “may have failed” as development of the chip reportedly stalled behind the scenes. That means it now looks like Qualcomm will remain the exclusive supplier of all 5G chips for the 2023 “iPhone” models, instead of just 20 percent as previously thought.

It’s not clear why Apple won’t have its modem ready in time for the 2023 “iPhone” lineup, but the company has been targeting a move away from Qualcomm for several years. Apple had a lengthy legal battle with Qualcomm and planned to use Intel 5G chips in the 2020 iPhones, but that ultimately wasn’t possible due to Intel’s inability to manufacture 5G chips that met Apple’s standards. Apple settled its lawsuit with Qualcomm in 2019 and has since used Qualcomm 5G modems in its “iPhone” and iPad lines.

Kuo expects Apple to continue developing its own 5G chip, but it will likely take more time to finalize work on a satisfactory standard for use in iPhones and other devices in the future. Aside from Apple’s custom modem, other key upgrades expected for the “iPhone 15” range include a USB-C port and a periscope telephoto camera.

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