Apple’s 5G Modem Development Is Not Going Well

Apple’s 5G Modem Development Is Not Going Well

Apple continues to run into issues as it works to develop its own 5G modem for use in its iPhone lineup, as well as other devices. Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman reports Apple is still “years away” from coming up with a modem chip that will be able to compete with chips from the current manufacturer of Apple’s modem chips, Qualcomm.

Apple will be unable to hit its original 2024 target date for having the chip in an iPhone and Gurman says it will also likely miss an extended spring 2025 launch target. It now appears that the modem chip launch will be delayed until 2025 or early 2026. Apple is planning to first use the new 5G chip in its low-cost iPhone SE.

Gurman says Apple’s development is still in its early stages and it “may lag behind the competition by years.” One version Apple is working on doesn’t support faster mmWave technology, and Apple is having issues working with the Intel code it purchased. Attempts at rewrites have proven to be problematic, as adding new features tends to break existing features. Apple also has to be careful not to infringe on any of Qualcomm’s patents.

“Why we thought we could take a failed project from Intel and somehow succeed is a mystery,” an Apple employee allegedly told Gurman.

As it works to fix the issues with its homegrown 5G modem, Apple in September agreed to use Qualcomm modems for the next three years.

Apple is Qualcomm’s biggest client, accounting for almost 25% of the supplier’s revenue. The deal with Apple covers smartphone launches in 2024, 2025, and 2026. The agreement was originally set to expire this year and the iPhone 15 lineup had been expected to be the last to use Qualcomm modems.