Apple's own 5G iPhone modem could arrive as soon as 2021

Posted:
in iPhone edited November 2019
Apple is working to have an internally-designed 5G modem ready by 2021 -- a year ahead of prior rumors, according to one report.

iPhone XS in Japan


If all goes according to plan, the chip will appear in at least some products in 2021, a Reuters source claimed. Qualcomm however is expected to have a presence in 5G iPhones starting in 2020, and the source indicated that Apple's technology will only replace Qualcomm in phases, as Apple will need time to make modems that work with all carriers and countries.

"There's a fierce desire to have independence, but they also realize it has to be done responsibly," the source commented.

Another obstacle is the terms of Apple's legal settlement with Qualcomm, which resulted in a six-year licensing deal and a chip supply arrangement that could potentially last just as long. If so that could mean Qualcomm chips in iPhones as late as 2025, by that point potentially a liability more than an asset. Apple's increasing use of internal chip designs allows it to optimize power and performance.

The Reuters source didn't specify Apple's modem as appearing in iPhones, but the company's only other cellular-equipped products at the moment are higher-end iPads and Apple Watches. The company is believed to be developing an AR headset and a self-driving car, both which would benefit from 5G but might not need it.

On Thursday Apple confirmed plans to buy most of Intel's mobile modem business for $1 billion. Intel was once planning to have a 5G modem ready sometime in 2020, so the deal could indeed accelerate Apple's efforts.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    robjnrobjn Posts: 263member
    You write: Another obstacle is the terms of Apple's legal settlement with Qualcomm, which resulted in a six-year licensing deal and a chip supply arrangement that could potentially last just as long. If so that could mean Qualcomm chips in iPhones as late as 2025.

    Apple has licensed Qualcomm’s patents for 6 years. However, the chip supply deal is only described as “multi-year”. This could just be 2 or 3 years. Apple could potentially release it’s own chips at any time and these chips could use some Qualcomm technology under the licensing deal. Apple may first use its own modems in products like Watch and iPad before later bringing them to iPhone.
    edited July 2019 mld53aMacQcrapcatmeown2itivguymattinoz
  • Reply 2 of 19
    seanismorrisseanismorris Posts: 1,624member
    2023 is more likely...

    Apple didn’t settle with Qualcomm because Intels 5G efforts were in a good spot.

    Apple needs some time to hire away Qualcomm’s employees after all...

  • Reply 3 of 19
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,027member
    As soon as 3 iterations from now? Can Reuters get some rumours that are a little more relevant?
  • Reply 4 of 19
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,910member
    Yes Apple will need QCOM for awhile for all the existing phones which we know will be around for sometime. Once Apple phases out all the older phones for ones contain the Apple design, that is when Apple will not need QCOM chips, Apple will still need to licenses QCOM IP for their prev modems as well as cross license the Intel IP they just bought.
  • Reply 5 of 19
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,181member
    If this is remotely true, then regardless of 2021 or 2023, it's a blockbuster development.
    edited July 2019
  • Reply 6 of 19
    robjnrobjn Posts: 263member
    Since Apple has a 6 year license to Qualcomm’s patents. Apple has 6 years to advance it own technology ahead of Qualcomm’s.

    In the meantime Apple can use Qualcomm’s chip designs or it can use Qualcomm’s technology in its own chip designs.

    Interestingly, Apple’s press statement says they intend to “differentiate”. In saying this, Apple reveal that they have thought of ways that will make their own chips different in ways that will matter to customers. This is intriguing.

    In order to make more money, Qualcomm insisted on effectively charging twice by not including patent licensing with its chip designs (even though the chip designs obviously employ the patents). It now appears Apple could be working this situation to their own advantage.

    The licensing deal with Qualcomm might not be about Apple caving in and being forced to use Qualcomm chips. It might be about Apple finding a way to bring their own chips to market sooner.

    To Qualcomm, the licensing deal with Apple felt like a victory, however in 10 years time people may well look back and see that deal as the beginning of the end of Qualcomm’s dominance.
    AppleExposed
  • Reply 7 of 19
    NotsofastNotsofast Posts: 450member
    The article should be corrected to from stating "another obstacle" to state "another POTENTIAL obstacle" is the multi-year chip supply agreement.  No one knows how it is constructed, i.e., does it require Apple to purchase a set number of chips or simply for Qualcomm to provide as requested by Apple.  One of Apple's contentions in the lawsuit was that Qualcomm refused to provide the chips/modems to Apple. 
  • Reply 8 of 19
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 9,278member
    While I doubt that this will happen, it should be noted that 2021 is a LOT closer (in terms of iPhones than most think).   The phones released in September 2020 will, effectively be 2021 phones.   Apple could easily announce one (or an upgrade) to come out "in the next few months) during their 2020 rollout.

    Actually, I am expecting them to do something similar with a Qualcomm 5G modem in about 6 weeks during their next roll out.
    "Coming Soon to an Apple Store Near You!...."
    edited July 2019
  • Reply 9 of 19
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,506member
    Those naysayers will find out that Intel 5G tech but Apple refined and made modem for 2021 iPhone will be as good or better than Qualcomm version. Intel had 5G modem working but not at the level of Apple's strict spec. Now is time with Intel's 2200 engineers,17000 patents and Apple's own chip engineers, Apple will make it happen.
    edited July 2019
  • Reply 10 of 19
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,805unconfirmed, member
    robjn said:

    Interestingly, Apple’s press statement says they intend to “differentiate”. In saying this, Apple reveal that they have thought of ways that will make their own chips different in ways that will matter to customers. This is intriguing.


    THIS is exactly what I mentioned. We don't know what Apple has planned besides the obvious.

    Great things are coming.
  • Reply 11 of 19
    Is the QCOM IP licensing also based on the value of the device it’s being used in? Or is that just for the radio hardware?  I ask because if Apple starts making its own radios, it can put them into Macs without paying a fortune. It always baffled me that the price of the phone was used to calculate royalty payments. Teslas have cellular radios built into them. Do they pay QCOM based on the value of the whole vehicle?  
  • Reply 12 of 19
    stolatzstolatz Posts: 6member
    Who is this guy and how is he related to the iPhone supply chain? .. https://www.fool.com/investing/2018/09/27/apple-ditched-these-2-suppliers-in-its-iphone-xs-m.aspx
  • Reply 13 of 19
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 553member
    Soli said:
    As soon as 3 iterations from now? Can Reuters get some rumours that are a little more relevant?
    Seriously. 
    “As soon as 2021”. It may as well be “as soon as” tomorrow afternoon. This is just more clickbait, filler “journalism”.  Got me again.
  • Reply 14 of 19
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 553member
    robjn said:

    Interestingly, Apple’s press statement says they intend to “differentiate”. In saying this, Apple reveal that they have thought of ways that will make their own chips different in ways that will matter to customers. This is intriguing.


    THIS is exactly what I mentioned. We don't know what Apple has planned besides the obvious.

    Great things are coming.
    How great would a 5G Macbook Pro be? Surely there must be a demand for a cellular Mac. 
    edited July 2019 AppleExposed
  • Reply 15 of 19
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,692member
    wood1208 said:
    Those naysayers will find out that Intel 5G tech but Apple refined and made modem for 2021 iPhone will be as good or better than Qualcomm version. Intel had 5G modem working but not at the level of Apple's strict spec. Now is time with Intel's 2200 engineers,17000 patents and Apple's own chip engineers, Apple will make it happen.
    Here is some detail on the patent side of things:

    https://www.iam-media.com/who-leading-5g-patent-race.
  • Reply 16 of 19
    stevenozstevenoz Posts: 263member
    How great would a 5G Macbook Pro be? Surely there must be a demand for a cellular Mac. 
    I don't think so. Too much data download on a computer for most people to pay by the megabyte, however fast.

    WiFi is a given and virtually ubiquitous. 



    AppleExposed
  • Reply 17 of 19
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,027member
    Japhey said:
    robjn said:

    Interestingly, Apple’s press statement says they intend to “differentiate”. In saying this, Apple reveal that they have thought of ways that will make their own chips different in ways that will matter to customers. This is intriguing.

    THIS is exactly what I mentioned. We don't know what Apple has planned besides the obvious.

    Great things are coming.
    How great would a 5G Macbook Pro be? Surely there must be a demand for a cellular Mac. 
    I'm sure there is, but it's probably much less than it used to be. Specifically, before the iPhone, before tethering, and before iOS and macOS made it realif ly easy to tether from WiFi in the Menu Bar.

    I'm not opposed to the option existing, but I'm not sure I'd add the line to my MBP, even if it's just $10 per month like my cellular Apple Watch. The Watch I want it for because I do like to leave my iPhone behind when I'm very mobile, but if I have my MBP I also have my iPhone for tethering and very likely have access to WiFi. If I would want anything it's making watchOS allow tethering (although that probably is battery life prohibitive).

    PS: Apple has been down this road and decided against it back when I really could've used a built-in system and was getting 3G data from device plugged into my USB-A port on my PowerBook.

  • Reply 18 of 19
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,805unconfirmed, member
    Japhey said:
    robjn said:

    Interestingly, Apple’s press statement says they intend to “differentiate”. In saying this, Apple reveal that they have thought of ways that will make their own chips different in ways that will matter to customers. This is intriguing.


    THIS is exactly what I mentioned. We don't know what Apple has planned besides the obvious.

    Great things are coming.
    How great would a 5G Macbook Pro be? Surely there must be a demand for a cellular Mac. 

    I'm sure the demand is low UNTIL Apple shows us what we can do with it then we'll all want one.
  • Reply 19 of 19
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,805unconfirmed, member
    Soli said:
    Japhey said:
    robjn said:

    Interestingly, Apple’s press statement says they intend to “differentiate”. In saying this, Apple reveal that they have thought of ways that will make their own chips different in ways that will matter to customers. This is intriguing.

    THIS is exactly what I mentioned. We don't know what Apple has planned besides the obvious.

    Great things are coming.
    How great would a 5G Macbook Pro be? Surely there must be a demand for a cellular Mac. 
    I'm sure there is, but it's probably much less than it used to be. Specifically, before the iPhone, before tethering, and before iOS and macOS made it realif ly easy to tether from WiFi in the Menu Bar.

    I'm not opposed to the option existing, but I'm not sure I'd add the line to my MBP, even if it's just $10 per month like my cellular Apple Watch. The Watch I want it for because I do like to leave my iPhone behind when I'm very mobile, but if I have my MBP I also have my iPhone for tethering and very likely have access to WiFi. If I would want anything it's making watchOS allow tethering (although that probably is battery life prohibitive).

    PS: Apple has been down this road and decided against it back when I really could've used a built-in system and was getting 3G data from device plugged into my USB-A port on my PowerBook.


    If Apple can get the tech right and have the fastest network in the world we could see a service where all your Apple products are connected for a fee.

    Think a carrier on steroids.
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