Apple chip-maker will start building iPhone’s custom 5G modems in 2023

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Apple chip-maker will start building iPhone's custom 5G modems in 2023

Qualcomm is slowly but surely getting started.
Photo: Killian Bell / Cult of Mac

TSMC, Apple’s primary chip production partner, will begin manufacturing custom 5G modem chips for the iPhone by 2023, according to a new report citing four different sources familiar with the plan.

The chips will reportedly be built using a 4-nanometer manufacturing process and be able to use their own radio frequency and millimeter wave components. They will allow Apple to reduce its reliability on rival chip maker Qualcomm.

Apple’s own 5G modems will go into production in 2023

Qualcomm currently produces the cellular chips found in today’s iPhone and iPad models. But Apple has been working on replacing them with its own modems, designed entirely internally, for several years now.

Apple bought Intel’s $ 1 billion mobile modem business in 2019 to kickstart that mission, and we’ve been waiting for their own 5G modem to show up ever since. Nikkei Asia reports that they will finally go into production in 2023.

“Apple plans to use TSMC’s 4-nanometer chip production technology to mass-produce its first in-house 5G modem chip,” said four people familiar with the matter, the report said on Tuesday.

“The iPhone maker is developing its own radio frequency and millimeter wave components to complement the modem. Apple is also working on its own power management chip specific to the modem,” said two people.

Qualcomm is preparing to lose Apple orders

The report comes less than a week after sources for Digitimes also said that Apple will start shipping its first custom modem chips in 2023. It also follows Qualcomm’s prediction that it will lose Apple orders in the same year.

During its recent earnings call, Qualcomm warned investors that they expect to have only a 20% stake in Apple’s modem business by 2023. However, it believes it will continue to supply some devices to certain markets.

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