Apple To Remain Tethered To Qualcomm Even After It Successfully Launches Its Custom 5G Modem, Here’s How

Apple recently renewed its 5G licensing agreement with Qualcomm because it continues to face development challenges with its in-house solution. With the contiguous delays, the technology giant will reportedly not launch the custom 5G modem by the end of 2025 or early 2026, with the first batch likely debuting in the new iPhones. However, even with the launch being successful, a new report states that Apple will continue to rely on Qualcomm’s 5G modems, but not necessarily for the iPhone.

Qualcomm may continue to provide Apple 5G modems for the iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac

It is unclear how many units Apple intends to make of its custom 5G modems, but given that each of them will help it increase its margins compared to an iPhone with a Qualcomm baseband chip, it will likely be the company’s prerogative to mass produce them in the millions. However, even that will not help sever the partnership with Qualcomm, as Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman says in his latest ‘Power On’ newsletter that Apple’s in-house 5G modems will take at least an additional two or three years to arrive for the Apple Watch, iPad and the Mac.

“But the real test will be whether Apple can successfully apply its do-it-yourself approach to new areas. That includes building its own cellular modem, a component that’s now expected to be ready around 2026. The company will then probably need two or three additional years to get that chip inside cellular versions of the Apple Watch and iPad — and the Mac, once the part is integrated into the company’s system-on-a-chip.”

With its current estimated launch timeline, Apple’s first in-house 5G modem is said to arrive in late 2025 at the earliest, and given the estimation from Gurman, Qualcomm will continue to supply for another two to three years. During this time, after the expiration of the latest agreement, Qualcomm may charge Apple extra based on the losses it would incur by losing out on iPhone 5G modem orders.

In short, Apple is not getting rid of the San Diego firm this year, though its efforts in doing so should be commended. Another company that Apple intends to reduce dependency on is Broadcom, with plans to mass produce custom Bluetooth and Wi-Fi chips. Unfortunately, the technology giant was originally supposed to launch both in 2025, but just like with the 5G modem development, Apple continues to run into roadblocks with these chips. We will wait until the end of 2025 to see the fruits of the company’s progress, so stay tuned.


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