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Apple is reportedly working on its own custom 5G modem, and according to a recent report from DigiTimes, multiple suppliers are interested in assisting with the final assembly of the chip. While TSMC, Apple’s chipmaking partner, is likely to manufacture the custom-designed modem, ASE Technology, and Amkor Technology are currently competing to package the modem chips.
The two companies have prior experience in packaging Qualcomm’s modem chips, and given that Qualcomm is currently the exclusive supplier of 5G modems for Apple devices, it makes sense that these suppliers would be interested in working with Apple on their own custom-designed 5G modem.
Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon has said that he expects Apple’s 5G modem to be ready by 2024, but Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has reported that it could take up to three years for Apple to fully transition away from Qualcomm.
In the meantime, all iPhone 15 models are expected to be equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X70 modem, which offers further cellular speed and power efficiency improvements compared to the Snapdragon X65 found in all iPhone 14 models.
The first device expected to be equipped with Apple’s custom 5G modem is the fourth-generation iPhone SE, which is likely to be released in March 2024. While it remains unclear how Apple’s chip would perform compared to Qualcomm’s modems, the switch to an in-house design would likely reduce Apple’s production costs over time.
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This move towards an in-house 5G modem is not entirely surprising given Apple’s history of designing its own chips, including the A-series chips that power the iPhone and iPad. By creating its own custom 5G modem, Apple can exert more control over its hardware and reduce its reliance on external suppliers. This could lead to faster innovation and a more streamlined production process, which would ultimately benefit both Apple and its customers.
While there is still much to be learned about Apple’s rumored 5G modem project, the fact that multiple suppliers are interested in assisting with its final assembly is a positive sign for the company’s continued efforts to innovate and differentiate itself from its competitors. Only time will tell if Apple’s custom-designed 5G modem can live up to the hype and deliver the kind of performance and efficiency gains that the company is hoping for.