Apple will reportedly miss its target of developing a modem for the iPhone that could see the company replace a vital component sourced from Qualcomm. The iPhone maker was previously tipped to introduce an in-house modem chip for its smartphones within the next couple of years, but a new report suggests that it might be delayed by a year. Apple employees have reportedly been working on the project since 2018, but the company’s alternative to Qualcomm’s modem is said to be years away.
A Bloomberg report, citing unnamed sources at Apple with knowledge of the matter, states that the company is expected to miss its goal to develop an in-house modem chip by early 2025. Instead, the chip could be developed by the end of that year, or in early 2026, according to the report. Earlier this year, Qualcomm and Apple renewed a deal for access to the US chipmaker’s modems for Apple’s iPhone upcoming models.
Apple’s Johny Srouji announced in 2020 that the company had begun development of a new modem chip for its iPhone models. However, it has faced challenges during development — despite acquiring Intel’s modem unit for $1 billion in 2019. The firm missed its plan to include its own 5G modem in an iPhone by next year, and the report suggests that it will not be available until 2026 — when Apple’s deal with Qualcomm is set to end.
When Apple eventually launches its own 5G modem, it might not offer performance on par with competing smartphones equipped with Qualcomm’s modems, according to the report. One of the versions being developed by Apple does not offer support for the short-distance millimetre wave (mmWave) bands that offer extremely high 5G data speeds under certain conditions. Apple would also have to ensure that none of the technologies supported on the chip infringes on Qualcomm’s patents.
Successfully developing its own modem chip would give Apple an advantage over other manufacturers — the company already develops its own mobile processors for its smartphones, tablets, computers, wearables and other devices. However, the report suggests that Apple has run into roadblocks during the development of the component and might eventually introduce the chip on its most affordable smartphone — the purported successor to the iPhone SE (2022).
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