Apple modem expected in iPhone 16, says Qualcomm CEO

Home » Apple modem expected in iPhone 16, says Qualcomm CEO
Apple modem expected in iPhone 16, says Qualcomm CEO


As Apple continues its transition to its own silicon, we’re expecting an Apple modem chip to replace Qualcomm ones in future iPhones – and it appears that might be happening with the iPhone 16.

Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon indicated that Apple hasn’t discussed 2024 modem orders with the company, suggesting that this is likely the year the Cupertino company makes the switch …

Background

Apple has for years used Qualcomm modem chips – the radio chips which provide mobile data connectivity.

The relationship between Apple and Qualcomm has, however, been a fraught one. In particular, the iPhone maker was upset that Qualcomm was “double-dipping” by selling the company a chip, and then demanding a patent royalty fee for use of the tech within that same chip.

Things got messy. Qualcomm accused Apple of blackmail. The CEOs of the two companies had “hostile” meetings. Qualcomm refused to sell chips to Apple for the iPhone XS and XR. Both companies set aside earlier talk of settlement and pledged to fight it all the way. A multibillion-dollar trial began.

Apple’s plan was to temporarily switch from Qualcomm modem chips to Intel ones while it worked on its own radio chip design. Unfortunately, that plan fell apart when Intel announced that it was exiting the 5G smartphone modem business. Since it would be a few years before Apple’s own chip design was ready, that left the company with no choice but to make up with Qualcomm. An out-of-court settlement was quickly reached. 

In order to accelerate work on an in-house 5G modem chip, Apple bought Intel’s modem division. It had been suggested that 2023 might be the year, with the iPhone 15, but two subsequent reports said not, pointing to some mix of technical and legal challenges.

Qualcomm expects Apple modem in 2024

CNBC reports on comments made by the Qualcomm head at Mobile World Congress.

Apple is moving to in-house 5G modem chips for its 2024 iPhones, as far as the chief executive of Qualcomm — which currently produces them for the tech giant — is aware.

“We’re making no plans for 2024, my planning assumption is we’re not providing [Apple] a modem in ’24, but it’s their decision to make,” Cristiano Amon told CNBC at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Plans for large-scale chip production are usually made some considerable time in advance, so if Apple planned to place an order for millions of Qualcomm’s modem chips in 2024, we’d expect the company’s CEO to be aware of this by now.

Instead, his remark makes it clear that no such communication has taken place, which does strongly suggest that – for now at least – Apple is planning to switch to its own modem chip next year.

Photo: Vishnu Mohanan/Unsplash

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