Apple is partnering with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) to develop its own 5G iPhone modems starting in 2023. This is a bid for Apple to distance itself from Qualcomm, which currently provides Apple with its modems for the iPhone.
As reported by Nikkei, Apple is said to be adopting TSMC’s 4nm chip production technology in order to develop its first 5G modem chip for future iterations of the iPhone. The matter was confirmed with four people familiar with the subject. Apple is believed to be developing its own radio frequency and millimetre wave components to go along with its new modem. Sources also told Nikkei that a power management chip built for the modem is also in development.
Mass production of the TSMC modems is reported to begin in 2023. Qualcomm’s iPhone modem share is also expected to “drop to about 20% in 2023”.
Currently, Qualcomm provides Apple with its modem components for the entire iPhone 13 lineup. Qualcomm was also quite integral in Apple adopting 5G technology during the inception of the iPhone 12 line. However, Apple has been steadily attempting to reduce its reliance on Qualcomm following a lengthy legal battle over semiconductors in 2019. Since then, the rift between the two companies has become larger. Last week, Qualcomm revealed that it is working on its own chip that would be comparable to Apple’s M-Series chipset.
Working closer to TSMC, Apple will likely be able to cut costs on its modems. It will also undoubtedly strengthen the relationship between the two companies as TSMC already provides processors for iPhones and M1 Macs. TSMC’s 4nm technology is said to be used for iPhone processors in the second half of 2022. The 3nm technology is said to be adopted for next year, ahead of iPhone adoption which could kickstart in 2023.