Apple may be rushing to develop its own 5G modem by 2022
The iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro didn’t live up to the 5G rumors swirling prior to their launch, but 5G is coming to Apple’s devices soon. Current estimates peg next year’s iPhone as the first with 5G, thanks in part to a deal that Apple made with Qualcomm to provide 5G modems. However, Apple may be hurrying to get its own 5G modems into an iPhone as early as 2022.
Fast Company reported earlier today that a source familiar with the matter said that Apple is pushing to develop its own 5G modem for a 2022 release. Apple already designs its own SoCs (the A-series chips used in iPhones), so it’s not far fetched to think the Cupertino Colossus would have plans to build its own 5G modem. Apple purchased most of Intel’s smartphone modem business for US $1 billion this past July, giving it plenty of IP and hardware designs to lay the groundwork for a custom 5G modem.
According to Fast Company’s source, the 2022 deadline is “really pushing it.” Considering the time needed to design, manufacture, and test a modem, “really pushing it” is accurate. But the wine may be worth the pressure. Designing its own 5G modem would give Apple the ability to deeply integrate the chip with other hardware and, perhaps more importantly, software.
One of the reasons Apple’s A-series SoCs routinely obliterate Qualcomm’s offerings is their tight integration into the iOS environment. Apple is able to squeeze every ounce of performance possible out of the silicon because they fully control its design and can build an operating system around it. Building its own 5G modem would improve the chip’s performance, which may work to set an iPhone with the custom modem well ahead of competitors relying on third-party designs.
Take the rumored 2022 release date with a grain of salt, but 5G is the next big thing for the smartphone world, and you can bet that Apple wants a piece of that pie. In true Apple fashion, it’s likely the company wants to eat that piece on its own terms.