Apple's own 5G 'iPhone 13' modem may be used in iPad Pro

Posted:
in General Discussion
Supply chain sources suggest Apple's plans to make its own mmWave 5G modem for the next iPhone, are sufficiently advanced that it may also use them in a 2021 iPad Pro.




Following recent rumors that Apple will release an OLED iPad Pro in the second half of 2021, new reports suggest that the device may gain 5G. Specifically, two separate reports claim that 5G systems are expected, and that Apple's may use its own 5G modem in the iPad Pro.

A 5G iPad Pro has previously been rumored, with reports that its production was pushed back to early 2021 because of coronavirus delays. Now the claim is that whether or not that model arrives, Apple is planning an iPad Pro that will feature its own design of 5G modem.

According to one report in Digitimes, the supply chain is expecting to see an increase in demand for 5Gmm Wave Antenna in Package (AiP) modules. It's believed that this increase follows the use of these modules in the iPhone 12 and, presumably, the success of that device.

Separately, Digitimes also claims that Apple is continuing to develop its own 5G mmWave AiP. It's previously been expected that Apple plans to replace Qualcomm's 5G module with its own in the forthcoming "iPhone 13."

However, Digitimes sources say that Apple is possibly extending that development. It may be planning to utilize the 5G modem in an iPad Pro, and it is potentially creating its own RF-FEM (RF front end module) as part of that process.

Digitimes is noted for having strong sources within the supply industry. However, it's also had a much poorer track record for interpreting its industry information and predicting future Apple products.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,262member
    WoW!
    That reconciliation with Qualcomm didn't last long.
  • Reply 2 of 31
    WoW!
    That reconciliation with Qualcomm didn't last long.
    Part of the agreement was licensing Apple to make its own modems and Apple has Intel's modem IP.
    tmayAlex1Nmattinozrazorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 31
    GG1GG1 Posts: 452member
    I've always thought once Apple developed its own modem chip, the lower cost vs. Qualcomm would enable putting the modem in more products, such as laptops. And with an eSIM, cellular connectivity could be almost as seamless to add/change as connecting to WiFi.

    Perhaps someday you wouldn't need to specify an iPad (or laptop) with the cellular option - it would always be inbuilt.
    tmayAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 31
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,455member
    For those who claim Qualcomm is the be-all end-all of modem technology and that Apple can never approach the performance levels of Qualcomm, just remember that the same thing was assumed of Intel in the CPU arena. That being said, IF Apple develops its own modem it had better be as good as or better than Qualcomm’s. 
    edited November 2020 tmayWgkruegerchaickaAlex1NRayz2016muthuk_vanalingamdavgregrazorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 31
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,255member
    lkrupp said:
    For those who claim Qualcomm is the be-all end-all of modem technology and that Apple can never approach the performance levels of Qualcomm, just remember that the same thing was assumed of Intel in the CPU arena. That being said, IF Apple develops its own modem it had better be as good as or better than Qualcomm’s. 
    The problem is QC has such a dominant market share as well as a huge head start and experience advantage, putting Apple or any other competitor at a significant disadvantage. We see how well it turned out for intel (of course intel isn’t exactly the top of anything right now...)

    You’re right about equaling QC’s performance, though. Performance was a persistent complaint a couple years ago when Apple switched to intel modems. A big potential advantage for Apple, if they can do it, will be to integrate the modem with other silicon, saving space and potentially power. 
    edited November 2020 chaickawatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 31
    CY2022: TSMC 4nm, M3 SoC with 5G modem embedded?, A16 SoC with UMA but  5G modem separately on PCB?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 31
    MplsP said:
    lkrupp said:
    For those who claim Qualcomm is the be-all end-all of modem technology and that Apple can never approach the performance levels of Qualcomm, just remember that the same thing was assumed of Intel in the CPU arena. That being said, IF Apple develops its own modem it had better be as good as or better than Qualcomm’s. 
    The problem is QC has such a dominant market share as well as a huge head start and experience advantage, putting Apple or any other competitor at a significant disadvantage. We see how well it turned out for intel (of course intel isn’t exactly the top of anything right now...)

    You’re right about equaling QC’s performance, though. Performance was a persistent complaint a couple years ago when Apple switched to intel modems. A big potential advantage for Apple, if they can do it, will be to integrate the modem with other silicon, saving space and potentially power. 
    I would say that Apples single minded purpose for their chip technologies will overcome any advantage that QC has. And once Apple starts using their own modems the loss of that technology drive that Apple demands from their component suppliers along with the loss of revenue stream will further reduce QC’s ability to innovate in the future. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 31
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 836member
    GG1 said:
    I've always thought once Apple developed its own modem chip, the lower cost vs. Qualcomm would enable putting the modem in more products, such as laptops. And with an eSIM, cellular connectivity could be almost as seamless to add/change as connecting to WiFi.

    Perhaps someday you wouldn't need to specify an iPad (or laptop) with the cellular option - it would always be inbuilt.
    Yes to the first paragraph. No to the second. There will always upgrade options to higher margin, more expensive devices. Except for the Apple TV (so far), everything that Apple makes has these options. Higher ASP makes for happy shareholders. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 31
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,631member
    GG1 said:
    I've always thought once Apple developed its own modem chip, the lower cost vs. Qualcomm would enable putting the modem in more products, such as laptops. And with an eSIM, cellular connectivity could be almost as seamless to add/change as connecting to WiFi.

    Perhaps someday you wouldn't need to specify an iPad (or laptop) with the cellular option - it would always be inbuilt.

    I think wifi was an option for about the same time maybe a couple of years less until it became standard. Would seem about right that Apple could make cellular or a base level of cellular as a standard.

    Would seem like they could make Sub6 5G/4G as standard with eSIM then offer "Pro" cellular as the add on option with a SIM slot for a second SIM on devices beyond the iPhone.
    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 31
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,030member
    I don’t know about this. It seems awfully quick. If it would be ready for next year, why would Apple have made a five year deal with Qualcomm? Yes, items that are still made a few years after they come out would still use the same modems, but the whole thing seems odd. If Apple just began licensing Qualcomm patents months ago, how could they come up with a brand new 5G modem so quickly? I’m a bit skeptical. If this is correct, I sure hope it’s as good as Qualcomm’s, or Apple will get some pretty bad publicity.
    GeorgeBMacmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 11 of 31
    mattinoz said:
    GG1 said:
    I've always thought once Apple developed its own modem chip, the lower cost vs. Qualcomm would enable putting the modem in more products, such as laptops. And with an eSIM, cellular connectivity could be almost as seamless to add/change as connecting to WiFi.

    Perhaps someday you wouldn't need to specify an iPad (or laptop) with the cellular option - it would always be inbuilt.

    I think wifi was an option for about the same time maybe a couple of years less until it became standard. Would seem about right that Apple could make cellular or a base level of cellular as a standard.

    Would seem like they could make Sub6 5G/4G as standard with eSIM then offer "Pro" cellular as the add on option with a SIM slot for a second SIM on devices beyond the iPhone.

    Other PC makers have offered cellular as an option for years -- I could easily stick a wireless modem in the Thinkpad laptop I'm typing on now.   I find it curious that Apple never offered it in their MacBooks.   But, increasingly it is becoming time.   Past time actually.
    edited November 2020
  • Reply 12 of 31
    melgross said:
    I don’t know about this. It seems awfully quick. If it would be ready for next year, why would Apple have made a five year deal with Qualcomm? Yes, items that are still made a few years after they come out would still use the same modems, but the whole thing seems odd. If Apple just began licensing Qualcomm patents months ago, how could they come up with a brand new 5G modem so quickly? I’m a bit skeptical. If this is correct, I sure hope it’s as good as Qualcomm’s, or Apple will get some pretty bad publicity.

    Apple didn't have much choice but to make a deal with the devi:   They bet the farm on Intel and Intel failed them -- and they found they couldn't do it inhouse (at least not in a timely  manner).   And, while that fiasco was playing out, other vendors were racing ahead offering modern phones while Apple was stuck in the mud.   They had to offer a 5G phone or suffer the marketing consequences.

    But I agree with you that only a single year seems very quick.  The numbers just don't add. 

  • Reply 13 of 31
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,728member
    melgross said:
    I don’t know about this. It seems awfully quick. If it would be ready for next year, why would Apple have made a five year deal with Qualcomm? 
    Maybe that was the only deal on the table.  Qualcomm held a lot of the cards in the arrangement.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 14 of 31
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,446member
    Japhey said:
    GG1 said:
    I've always thought once Apple developed its own modem chip, the lower cost vs. Qualcomm would enable putting the modem in more products, such as laptops. And with an eSIM, cellular connectivity could be almost as seamless to add/change as connecting to WiFi.

    Perhaps someday you wouldn't need to specify an iPad (or laptop) with the cellular option - it would always be inbuilt.
    Yes to the first paragraph. No to the second. There will always upgrade options to higher margin, more expensive devices. Except for the Apple TV (so far), everything that Apple makes has these options. Higher ASP makes for happy shareholders. 

    I think the Apple TV will eventually have a couple of models; a regular model and a “gaming” model.
  • Reply 15 of 31
    GG1GG1 Posts: 452member
    melgross said:
    I don’t know about this. It seems awfully quick. If it would be ready for next year, why would Apple have made a five year deal with Qualcomm? Yes, items that are still made a few years after they come out would still use the same modems, but the whole thing seems odd. If Apple just began licensing Qualcomm patents months ago, how could they come up with a brand new 5G modem so quickly? I’m a bit skeptical. If this is correct, I sure hope it’s as good as Qualcomm’s, or Apple will get some pretty bad publicity.
    If Apple went with a complete redesign (nothing to salvage from the Intel 5G design), I would expect 4-5 years, so about 2022 at the absolute earliest. If it's based on the Intel design, then maybe it was far enough along for Apple's taste, so a few years' development got lopped off, and this rumour would make sense.

    But either way, like you said, the new part will be heavily scrutinized vs. QC (just like the M1 is now).
  • Reply 16 of 31
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,030member
    melgross said:
    I don’t know about this. It seems awfully quick. If it would be ready for next year, why would Apple have made a five year deal with Qualcomm? Yes, items that are still made a few years after they come out would still use the same modems, but the whole thing seems odd. If Apple just began licensing Qualcomm patents months ago, how could they come up with a brand new 5G modem so quickly? I’m a bit skeptical. If this is correct, I sure hope it’s as good as Qualcomm’s, or Apple will get some pretty bad publicity.

    Apple didn't have much choice but to make a deal with the devi:   They bet the farm on Intel and Intel failed them -- and they found they couldn't do it inhouse (at least not in a timely  manner).   And, while that fiasco was playing out, other vendors were racing ahead offering modern phones while Apple was stuck in the mud.   They had to offer a 5G phone or suffer the marketing consequences.

    But I agree with you that only a single year seems very quick.  The numbers just don't add. 

    I can’t blame Intel, as too many people have. Yes, they’re having problems moving to smaller process nodes. But that’s not due to incompetence, it’s due to them trying to have a node that is really what it says it is, rather than the somewhat fake statements from others. The bad publicity from that has carried over everywhere.

    With modems, it’s really difficult to challenge Qualcomm, which has most of the necessary patents, without being allowed to license them. In fact, Intel did an excellent job with what they did have, finding it necessary to reinvent some of those technologies themselves without infringing on Qualcomm’s. Now Apple has most of Intel’s patents, and supposedly is licensing Qualcomm’s as well. Obviously, that makes it far easier for Apple.

    but it takes time from when your engineers first see the patents until they’re able to design a product around them. That can take years. Months? That would be a miracle. Maybe Apple is licensing more from Qualcomm than just patents. That would make the most sense.
  • Reply 17 of 31
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,030member

    GG1 said:
    melgross said:
    I don’t know about this. It seems awfully quick. If it would be ready for next year, why would Apple have made a five year deal with Qualcomm? Yes, items that are still made a few years after they come out would still use the same modems, but the whole thing seems odd. If Apple just began licensing Qualcomm patents months ago, how could they come up with a brand new 5G modem so quickly? I’m a bit skeptical. If this is correct, I sure hope it’s as good as Qualcomm’s, or Apple will get some pretty bad publicity.
    If Apple went with a complete redesign (nothing to salvage from the Intel 5G design), I would expect 4-5 years, so about 2022 at the absolute earliest. If it's based on the Intel design, then maybe it was far enough along for Apple's taste, so a few years' development got lopped off, and this rumour would make sense.

    But either way, like you said, the new part will be heavily scrutinized vs. QC (just like the M1 is now).
    From what we know, Intel had no real 5G design, just very preliminary work. Without these essential patents Qualcomm has, making a 5G modem would be a very burdensome task. Even Huawei licenses many patents from Qualcomm. Otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to build a modem either. The only reason Qualcomm licensed them (though with the embargo, who knows what will happen, unless Biden fixes these problems) was because Huawei themselves had some patents Qualcomm needed. But Qualcomm has the large majority.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 18 of 31
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,262member
    melgross said:
    melgross said:
    I don’t know about this. It seems awfully quick. If it would be ready for next year, why would Apple have made a five year deal with Qualcomm? Yes, items that are still made a few years after they come out would still use the same modems, but the whole thing seems odd. If Apple just began licensing Qualcomm patents months ago, how could they come up with a brand new 5G modem so quickly? I’m a bit skeptical. If this is correct, I sure hope it’s as good as Qualcomm’s, or Apple will get some pretty bad publicity.

    Apple didn't have much choice but to make a deal with the devi:   They bet the farm on Intel and Intel failed them -- and they found they couldn't do it inhouse (at least not in a timely  manner).   And, while that fiasco was playing out, other vendors were racing ahead offering modern phones while Apple was stuck in the mud.   They had to offer a 5G phone or suffer the marketing consequences.

    But I agree with you that only a single year seems very quick.  The numbers just don't add. 

    I can’t blame Intel, as too many people have. Yes, they’re having problems moving to smaller process nodes. But that’s not due to incompetence, it’s due to them trying to have a node that is really what it says it is, rather than the somewhat fake statements from others. The bad publicity from that has carried over everywhere.

    With modems, it’s really difficult to challenge Qualcomm, which has most of the necessary patents, without being allowed to license them. In fact, Intel did an excellent job with what they did have, finding it necessary to reinvent some of those technologies themselves without infringing on Qualcomm’s. Now Apple has most of Intel’s patents, and supposedly is licensing Qualcomm’s as well. Obviously, that makes it far easier for Apple.

    but it takes time from when your engineers first see the patents until they’re able to design a product around them. That can take years. Months? That would be a miracle. Maybe Apple is licensing more from Qualcomm than just patents. That would make the most sense.

    That makes sense.   Especially the part about Apple having access to Qualcomm's patents:   Not only has Qualcomm seemingly reformed from their greedy monopoly days, but any company would be more likely to license a patent to a customer than to a competitor.

    Unfortunately, it also points out one of the many disadvantages of blocking Huawei from western technology:   it eliminates a worthy competitor to Qualcomm and insures their dominance of the market.  But, that may backfire as China and Huawei invest in becoming self sufficient.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 19 of 31
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,030member
    melgross said:
    melgross said:
    I don’t know about this. It seems awfully quick. If it would be ready for next year, why would Apple have made a five year deal with Qualcomm? Yes, items that are still made a few years after they come out would still use the same modems, but the whole thing seems odd. If Apple just began licensing Qualcomm patents months ago, how could they come up with a brand new 5G modem so quickly? I’m a bit skeptical. If this is correct, I sure hope it’s as good as Qualcomm’s, or Apple will get some pretty bad publicity.

    Apple didn't have much choice but to make a deal with the devi:   They bet the farm on Intel and Intel failed them -- and they found they couldn't do it inhouse (at least not in a timely  manner).   And, while that fiasco was playing out, other vendors were racing ahead offering modern phones while Apple was stuck in the mud.   They had to offer a 5G phone or suffer the marketing consequences.

    But I agree with you that only a single year seems very quick.  The numbers just don't add. 

    I can’t blame Intel, as too many people have. Yes, they’re having problems moving to smaller process nodes. But that’s not due to incompetence, it’s due to them trying to have a node that is really what it says it is, rather than the somewhat fake statements from others. The bad publicity from that has carried over everywhere.

    With modems, it’s really difficult to challenge Qualcomm, which has most of the necessary patents, without being allowed to license them. In fact, Intel did an excellent job with what they did have, finding it necessary to reinvent some of those technologies themselves without infringing on Qualcomm’s. Now Apple has most of Intel’s patents, and supposedly is licensing Qualcomm’s as well. Obviously, that makes it far easier for Apple.

    but it takes time from when your engineers first see the patents until they’re able to design a product around them. That can take years. Months? That would be a miracle. Maybe Apple is licensing more from Qualcomm than just patents. That would make the most sense.

    That makes sense.   Especially the part about Apple having access to Qualcomm's patents:   Not only has Qualcomm seemingly reformed from their greedy monopoly days, but any company would be more likely to license a patent to a customer than to a competitor.

    Unfortunately, it also points out one of the many disadvantages of blocking Huawei from western technology:   it eliminates a worthy competitor to Qualcomm and insures their dominance of the market.  But, that may backfire as China and Huawei invest in becoming self sufficient.
    Exactly! I’ve long been against the disallowing the licensing, or selling of technology to adversaries, unless it’s really essential to national security. As you say, these countries simply put the money into developing their own versions as China does, Russia with less success. Then they lose their dependence, if some conflict does begin, they have their own supplies.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 20 of 31
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,901member
    melgross said:

    GG1 said:
    melgross said:
    I don’t know about this. It seems awfully quick. If it would be ready for next year, why would Apple have made a five year deal with Qualcomm? Yes, items that are still made a few years after they come out would still use the same modems, but the whole thing seems odd. If Apple just began licensing Qualcomm patents months ago, how could they come up with a brand new 5G modem so quickly? I’m a bit skeptical. If this is correct, I sure hope it’s as good as Qualcomm’s, or Apple will get some pretty bad publicity.
    If Apple went with a complete redesign (nothing to salvage from the Intel 5G design), I would expect 4-5 years, so about 2022 at the absolute earliest. If it's based on the Intel design, then maybe it was far enough along for Apple's taste, so a few years' development got lopped off, and this rumour would make sense.

    But either way, like you said, the new part will be heavily scrutinized vs. QC (just like the M1 is now).
    From what we know, Intel had no real 5G design, just very preliminary work. Without these essential patents Qualcomm has, making a 5G modem would be a very burdensome task. Even Huawei licenses many patents from Qualcomm. Otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to build a modem either. The only reason Qualcomm licensed them (though with the embargo, who knows what will happen, unless Biden fixes these problems) was because Huawei themselves had some patents Qualcomm needed. But Qualcomm has the large majority.
    And Qualcomm licences many patents from Huawei. 

    They have a cross licencing agreement. They also recently settled a long running patent dispute. Huawei had been holding back on making royalty payments. 

    It is rumoured that even Apple licences a lot of patents from Huawei (almost 800 according to reports from just a few years ago). 

    From a 5G SEP perspective, in mid 2019, Huawei held 1554 patents.

    Apple held 12. 
    Intel held 551.
    Qualcomm held 846.

    There are interdependencies which will always be the case for world standards. 
    edited November 2020 GeorgeBMac
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