Apple is pushing to build its own in-house 5G modem by 2022.
Apple bought Intel’s ailing 5G modem business earlier this year, signalling its intention to cut out Qualcomm and produce its own chips. Now, Fast Company reports that iPhones could have Apple 5G modems inside by 2022.
The Cupertino company is reportedly working on building 5G chips for its iPhone, but likely won’t be able to bundle it into its iPhones until 2022, Fast Company is reporting, citing someone “with knowledge of the company’s plans.” That said, a glitch along the way could ultimately push the launch back to 2023.
Designing modems isn’t an easy thing to do and Fast Company‘s source is dubious as to whether 2022 is viable.
It won’t be easy. In fact, bringing a new modem to the finish line in two years is really pushing it, my source said. After all the design work is done, and the fabrication of the chips themselves is underway, an arduous testing and certification process still awaits.
Apple will have to put the modem through network optimization testing to make sure it plays nice with the carriers’ wireless networks. The modem must be tested to ensure compliance with global standards, and undergo another battery of tests to satisfy FCC requirements.
Apple has never produced a modem of its own before, so some of the people involved with the initiative may not fully understand how long it takes, said my source, who believes 2023 may be a more realistic completion date.
It certainly seems like an aggressive timeline, especially given that earlier this year Intel had to give up on developing a 5G modem for the 2020 iPhone due to problems with production.
Apple subsequently bought Intel’s modem division and is using the tech and personnel to develop its own hardware. Intel was already supplying Apple with 4G modems by that point.
However, Apple needed a Plan B and so it ceased its legal battles with Qualcomm so it could use its upcoming 5G modem — likely to be known as the X60 or X65 — inside the 2020 iPhone.
Given that there were problems with Intel’s 5G modem though, two years is a tall order and we believe it will be quite remarkable if it can come anywhere near the performance of Qualcomm’s 5G hardware in that timeframe.