A report from Nikkei Asia says Apple’s main chip manufacturing partner TSMC will begin producing Apple’s first in-house 5G modem chips for the iPhone in 2023. The move will allow Apple to move away from Qualcomm as a supplier of its cellular modem chips.
The move has been in development for several years and was made possible by Apple’s 2019 acquisition of Intel’s modem business.
Apple plans to adopt TSMC’s 4-nanometer chip production technology to mass produce its first in-house 5G modem chip, four people familiar with the matter said, adding that the iPhone maker is developing its own radio frequency and millimeter wave components to complement the modem. Apple is also working on its own power management chip specifically for the modem, two people briefed on the matter said.
The new report jibes with previous rumors of Apple launching its own modem as part of the 2023 iPhone lineup. Qualcomm last week revealed that it is expecting that it will only have a 20% share of modem production for the 2023 iPhone. Qualcomm believes that Apple will be using its own modem solution in most regions around the world, but will continue to rely on Qualcomm for certain markets and models, at least initially.
The Nikkei report says that while Apple and TSMC are currently trialing production of Apple’s in-house modem designs based on TSMC’s 5-nanometer process. However, the duo will shift to the more advanced 4-nanometer technology when mass production begins.