Confusion reigns about the future of Apple's 5G modem project

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited November 2023

A new leak appears to claim that Apple is ditching its plans to produce its own 5G iPhone modem, but the claim may just mean that the first effort is complete.

Apple has been trying to make its own 5G modem for the iPhone
Apple has been trying to make its own 5G modem for the iPhone



Apple's iPhone currently uses 5G modems made by Qualcomm, and it is expected to continue doing so until 2026. It has, though, been working on producing its own 5G modem for some years, and it has previously been claimed that it has been having difficulties with the project.

Now a new report relayed by regular leaker yeux1122, says (in translation) that Apple is "clearing up" its development.

"It is said that Apple has entered the stage of clearing up its ongoing investment in its 5G modem development department and workforce, which it has been developing in-house in recent years," says the report. "In other words, it is expected that it will be installed in the 4th generation of the iPhone SE or later attempts to develop its own modem will be unsuccessful and will be fully cleaned up."

That post by yeuz1122 has been tweeted by leaker Tech_Reve on Twitter/X, who claims "multiple sources" are saying the same thing.

"This suggests that attempts to incorporate Apple's in-house modem in the upcoming iPhone SE 4th generation or any subsequent efforts for in-house modem integration have seemingly failed," writes Tech_Reve, "and a complete abandonment is anticipated."

It's possible that it is because of machine translation that reports are unclear. But as described by yeux1122, the claim is that either the Apple 5G modem is ready for the next iPhone SE, or it has been abandoned completely.

Tech_Reve does not specify what other sources are saying this, but recently his or her information has appeared dubious. That includes a claim that Apple expects to ship 10 million of the Vision Pro by 2026, and that iMac will get an OLED screen in 2028.

Apple has previously abandoned projects -- seemingly, for instance, including Steve Jobs's idea for an actual television set -- but it seems unlikely for the 5G modem. There are technical and even bureaucratic hurdles for any firm designing a 5G modem, but Apple has been designing processors for decades.

More, in 2019 Apple spent $1 billion on buying Intel's entire modem business. That got Apple all of Intel's research, technology, and over 2,000 staff.

Read on AppleInsider

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,899member
    If China can produce it's own 5G modem than why not Apple ?
    williamlondondanoxwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 22
    Are there any estimates on how much Apple continues to annually expense on the effort?
    byronlwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 22
    XedXed Posts: 2,460member
    wood1208 said:
    If China can produce it's own 5G modem than why not Apple ?
    I don't think production is the issue. Rather creating a modem that doesn't violate Qualcomm's patents so that Apple isn't then making their own patens and still still paying Qualcomm for the technology.
    beowulfschmidtwilliamlondonmuthuk_vanalingambyronlAlex1Ncanukstormwatto_cobraMplsP
  • Reply 4 of 22
    mpantonempantone Posts: 2,022member
    Are there any estimates on how much Apple continues to annually expense on the effort?
    Apple knows exactly how much. But they won't divulge it. Just like they won't divulge how much they spend on autonomous driving research, future wearables, etc. Remember that Apple spent years and years working on the Apple Watch before it was launched.

    It's all bundled up in the R&D line item in their cash flow statement. For sure, what they spend on any given initiative is very important to them internally but it's really none of anyone's business outside the company. Well, at least not with current accounting standards. The catchall "R&D expenses" line item is enough for the SEC.

    Even guessing the figure might be stupid. We don't know how long Apple has been working on this and whether the expense has changed over time (most likely it has). Also, it is highly likely that Apple is funding R&D on projects that no one here has an inkling about. We don't know what percentage of the R&D budget is going to those.

    Hell, Apple's senior management scoffs at third party iPhone COGS estimates. And that's for a finished good.

    This whole "we give up the modem project" rumor is very fishy. It shouldn't be a engineering impossibility, it's probably likely due to navigating the Qualcomm patent minefield more than anything else. In the same way, the key NFC contactless chip patents are held by one Dutch company, NXP.
    edited November 2023 muthuk_vanalingamdanoxAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 22
    danoxdanox Posts: 2,678member
    wood1208 said:
    If China can produce it's own 5G modem than why not Apple ?
    If Google can sell the current Pixel 8 Pro flagship smartphone with a bad modem which phones home to HQ to handle (off load) AI functionally, which by way Apple probably can equal with their own in house modem right now (if Apple was willing to settle for just good enough). This is a topic in another thread about making a cheaper Apple Vision Pro for the masses.

    But Apple will usually try to not settle for just good enough if they can. However if Google can roll with a bad Pixel modem over multiple smartphones? And get a free pass from the geeks? :smile: 
    jas99watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 22
    Where is this mythical land where confusion "reigns"?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 22
    mpantonempantone Posts: 2,022member
    Where is this mythical land where confusion "reigns"?
    Right here. The Internet.
    watto_cobraMplsP
  • Reply 8 of 22
    I’m guessing that this is not playing out the way it is being reported.  This is a component that they could keep pretty close to their chest without the danger of leaks.
    Alex1Ndanoxjas99watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 22
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 2,271member
    Would it be bold to say the R1 in VisionPro is the modem chip just running different software?
    Just connect different sensors and bingo it is a Celluar modem.
    As both the Rx and Mx's shrink over time they'll just merge them to one chip.  
    danoxwatto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 10 of 22
    danoxdanox Posts: 2,678member
    mattinoz said:
    Would it be bold to say the R1 in VisionPro is the modem chip just running different software?
    Just connect different sensors and bingo it is a Celluar modem.
    As both the Rx and Mx's shrink over time they'll just merge them to one chip.  
    The R1 definitely has more functions than just keeping track/and controlling the cameras, initially I don’t think the modem will be included but in time I think some type of modem will be used in the Apple Vision Pro and I don’t think it’ll be one from Qualcomm.
    watto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 11 of 22
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,087member
    danox said:
    wood1208 said:
    If China can produce it's own 5G modem than why not Apple ?
    If Google can sell the current Pixel 8 Pro flagship smartphone with a bad modem which phones home to HQ to handle (off load) AI functionally, which by way Apple probably can equal with their own in house modem right now (if Apple was willing to settle for just good enough). This is a topic in another thread about making a cheaper Apple Vision Pro for the masses.

    But Apple will usually try to not settle for just good enough if they can. However if Google can roll with a bad Pixel modem over multiple smartphones? And get a free pass from the geeks? :smile: 
    So it descends into "what about Google" then? Well of course it does since it makes everything OK. ;)
    edited November 2023
  • Reply 12 of 22
    gatorguy said:
    danox said:
    wood1208 said:
    If China can produce it's own 5G modem than why not Apple ?
    If Google can sell the current Pixel 8 Pro flagship smartphone with a bad modem which phones home to HQ to handle (off load) AI functionally, which by way Apple probably can equal with their own in house modem right now (if Apple was willing to settle for just good enough). This is a topic in another thread about making a cheaper Apple Vision Pro for the masses.

    But Apple will usually try to not settle for just good enough if they can. However if Google can roll with a bad Pixel modem over multiple smartphones? And get a free pass from the geeks? :smile: 
    So it descends into "what about Google" then? Well of course it does since it makes everything OK. ;)
    Actually, I was expecting a different response from you. I don't remember reading anything about Pixel phones having bad modems so far. They are not from Qualcomm (made by Samsung I believe), so may not be the best-in-class when compared to competition. But is it really a bad one? What is the basis for it?  Those are really questions for @Danox, not you. But I was expecting a post from you along those lines.
    Alex1N
  • Reply 13 of 22
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,087member
    gatorguy said:
    danox said:
    wood1208 said:
    If China can produce it's own 5G modem than why not Apple ?
    If Google can sell the current Pixel 8 Pro flagship smartphone with a bad modem which phones home to HQ to handle (off load) AI functionally, which by way Apple probably can equal with their own in house modem right now (if Apple was willing to settle for just good enough). This is a topic in another thread about making a cheaper Apple Vision Pro for the masses.

    But Apple will usually try to not settle for just good enough if they can. However if Google can roll with a bad Pixel modem over multiple smartphones? And get a free pass from the geeks? :smile: 
    So it descends into "what about Google" then? Well of course it does since it makes everything OK. ;)
    Actually, I was expecting a different response from you. I don't remember reading anything about Pixel phones having bad modems so far. They are not from Qualcomm (made by Samsung I believe), so may not be the best-in-class when compared to competition. But is it really a bad one? What is the basis for it?  Those are really questions for @Danox, not you. But I was expecting a post from you along those lines.
    It's not pertinent (and they're not bad anyway per Ookla in April this year:  Pixel 7 Pro outranked the iPhone 14 Pro in a speed test report). It's the fact some posters dredge up Google as an excuse when Apple might disappoint them. 
    edited November 2023 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 14 of 22
    I remember a few years ago watching a presentation by a top Tesla engineer saying how they thought the transmission would be the easiest part of the car to build since it only needed two speeds but it ended up being the thing they had the most problems with.
    watto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 15 of 22
    danoxdanox Posts: 2,678member
    gatorguy said:
    danox said:
    wood1208 said:
    If China can produce it's own 5G modem than why not Apple ?
    If Google can sell the current Pixel 8 Pro flagship smartphone with a bad modem which phones home to HQ to handle (off load) AI functionally, which by way Apple probably can equal with their own in house modem right now (if Apple was willing to settle for just good enough). This is a topic in another thread about making a cheaper Apple Vision Pro for the masses.

    But Apple will usually try to not settle for just good enough if they can. However if Google can roll with a bad Pixel modem over multiple smartphones? And get a free pass from the geeks? :smile: 
    So it descends into "what about Google" then? Well of course it does since it makes everything OK. ;)

    The Pixel modems are along with Tensor soc are still subpar, nothing but trouble years on end.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/GooglePixel/comments/173f4y2/thoughts_on_the_8_pro_modem/
    https://droidwin.com/pixel-8-pro-modem-is-it-any-better/
    https://piunikaweb.com/2023/10/03/potential-google-pixel-8-buyers-concerned-about-possible-modem-issues/
    https://mobilesyrup.com/2023/11/01/modem-woes-persist-on-google-pixel-8-series/
    edited November 2023 watto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 16 of 22
    danoxdanox Posts: 2,678member
    gatorguy said:
    danox said:
    wood1208 said:
    If China can produce it's own 5G modem than why not Apple ?
    If Google can sell the current Pixel 8 Pro flagship smartphone with a bad modem which phones home to HQ to handle (off load) AI functionally, which by way Apple probably can equal with their own in house modem right now (if Apple was willing to settle for just good enough). This is a topic in another thread about making a cheaper Apple Vision Pro for the masses.

    But Apple will usually try to not settle for just good enough if they can. However if Google can roll with a bad Pixel modem over multiple smartphones? And get a free pass from the geeks? :smile: 
    So it descends into "what about Google" then? Well of course it does since it makes everything OK. ;)
    Actually, I was expecting a different response from you. I don't remember reading anything about Pixel phones having bad modems so far. They are not from Qualcomm (made by Samsung I believe), so may not be the best-in-class when compared to competition. But is it really a bad one? What is the basis for it?  Those are really questions for @Danox, not you. But I was expecting a post from you along those lines.

    The Pixel modems are along with Tensor soc are still subpar, nothing but trouble years on end many Android users have voiced their concerns.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/GooglePixel/comments/173f4y2/thoughts_on_the_8_pro_modem/
    https://droidwin.com/pixel-8-pro-modem-is-it-any-better/
    https://piunikaweb.com/2023/10/03/potential-google-pixel-8-buyers-concerned-about-possible-modem-issues/
    https://mobilesyrup.com/2023/11/01/modem-woes-persist-on-google-pixel-8-series/
    edited November 2023 watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 22
    danoxdanox Posts: 2,678member
    gatorguy said:
    gatorguy said:
    danox said:
    wood1208 said:
    If China can produce it's own 5G modem than why not Apple ?
    If Google can sell the current Pixel 8 Pro flagship smartphone with a bad modem which phones home to HQ to handle (off load) AI functionally, which by way Apple probably can equal with their own in house modem right now (if Apple was willing to settle for just good enough). This is a topic in another thread about making a cheaper Apple Vision Pro for the masses.

    But Apple will usually try to not settle for just good enough if they can. However if Google can roll with a bad Pixel modem over multiple smartphones? And get a free pass from the geeks? :smile: 
    So it descends into "what about Google" then? Well of course it does since it makes everything OK. ;)
    Actually, I was expecting a different response from you. I don't remember reading anything about Pixel phones having bad modems so far. They are not from Qualcomm (made by Samsung I believe), so may not be the best-in-class when compared to competition. But is it really a bad one? What is the basis for it?  Those are really questions for @Danox, not you. But I was expecting a post from you along those lines.
    It's not pertinent (and they're not bad anyway per Ookla in April this year:  Pixel 7 Pro outranked the iPhone 14 Pro in a speed test report). It's the fact some posters dredge up Google as an excuse when Apple might disappoint them. 

    There is no confusion the Tensor doc and modem are subpar well behind even a 11 Pro iPhone from 4-5 years ago.

    https://browser.geekbench.com/mobile-benchmarks
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 22
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 576member
    Who cares who makes the modem. All that matters is the phone feature set. 
  • Reply 19 of 22
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 2,271member
    danox said:
    mattinoz said:
    Would it be bold to say the R1 in VisionPro is the modem chip just running different software?
    Just connect different sensors and bingo it is a Celluar modem.
    As both the Rx and Mx's shrink over time they'll just merge them to one chip.  
    The R1 definitely has more functions than just keeping track/and controlling the cameras, initially I don’t think the modem will be included but in time I think some type of modem will be used in the Apple Vision Pro and I don’t think it’ll be one from Qualcomm.
    More the fact the R1 is a real-time processor and OS taking large streams of data and pulling signals from the noise. Should make it better at cellular that Apples traditional SOCs


  • Reply 20 of 22
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,087member
    danox said:
    gatorguy said:
    gatorguy said:
    danox said:
    wood1208 said:
    If China can produce it's own 5G modem than why not Apple ?
    If Google can sell the current Pixel 8 Pro flagship smartphone with a bad modem which phones home to HQ to handle (off load) AI functionally, which by way Apple probably can equal with their own in house modem right now (if Apple was willing to settle for just good enough). This is a topic in another thread about making a cheaper Apple Vision Pro for the masses.

    But Apple will usually try to not settle for just good enough if they can. However if Google can roll with a bad Pixel modem over multiple smartphones? And get a free pass from the geeks? :smile: 
    So it descends into "what about Google" then? Well of course it does since it makes everything OK. ;)
    Actually, I was expecting a different response from you. I don't remember reading anything about Pixel phones having bad modems so far. They are not from Qualcomm (made by Samsung I believe), so may not be the best-in-class when compared to competition. But is it really a bad one? What is the basis for it?  Those are really questions for @Danox, not you. But I was expecting a post from you along those lines.
    It's not pertinent (and they're not bad anyway per Ookla in April this year:  Pixel 7 Pro outranked the iPhone 14 Pro in a speed test report). It's the fact some posters dredge up Google as an excuse when Apple might disappoint them. 

    There is no confusion the Tensor doc and modem are subpar well behind even a 11 Pro iPhone from 4-5 years ago.

    https://browser.geekbench.com/mobile-benchmarks
    Aren't we discussing real world and not on a tech bench?
    https://9to5google.com/2023/04/18/pixel-7-modem-iphone-speed-test/

    And if you look, and no idea if you ever have, there are pages of similar complaints about iPhone connectivity, both wifi and cellular. Shouldn't that be your bigger interest, something that actually matters to our community? 

    So how is a Google Pixel speed result pertinent to Apple modem development? Is there any connection (!) at all? Your reply to "if China can produce a 5G modem, why can't Apple" was actually a silly one.
    edited December 2023 muthuk_vanalingam
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