Apple, proprietary modems could also arrive from next year

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After being able to design and build the processors of its devices, Apple is now even closer to the realization of the hardware necessary to connect them to the network.

While Apple is managing to keep a lot of secrecy about its businesses, there are more and more signs that let his intentions shine through. In Cupertino they will not only have to demonstrate that they are able to make modems but also that they know how to make them good enough to justify abandoning those of Qualcomm currently used on the iPhone and iPad.

Going back a few years, we know that Apple, in addition to having signed the agreement with Qualcomm, acquired Intel’s smartphone modem division in 2019, including its 2,200 employees. It has since continued to hire engineers with related skills, often at satellite offices in the same cities as its one-time partners and possible future competitors.


In San Diego, where Qualcomm is headquartered, Apple has opened around 140 positions directly related to the development and integration of cellular modem chips. In Irvine, California, the headquarters of Broadcom, a company that designs key components used between a smartphone modem and its antennas, Apple has opened an office where about 20 people will work.

Last November, Qualcomm’s CFO said that the company plans to ship about 20% of the 5G modems Apple will use in its devices by 2023. If we think that Qualcomm currently supplies Apple with almost all modems, it is easy to guess that the remaining 80% will have to come from somewhere else. While it is possible that Apple is planning to use 5G modems from other vendors, analysts predict that 2023 will be the year of the debut of Apple’s proprietary modem.

As happened with the processors, first those of the iPhone and then the M1s, having the design of the modems in hand could also offer Apple a number of advantages over the competition including lower costs, greater freedom towards suppliers and a greater possibility of customization according to needs and optimizing resources.

However, designing a modem is more difficult than designing a processor. The complexity comes from the fact that a modem must handle a variety of circumstances much wider which can interfere with the signal. But once all is done, future Apple devices may be able to do things not currently possible. For example, integration into other types of devices as well.

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Abraham
Expert tech and gaming writer, blending computer science expertise