Rumors spread that Apple is designing its own 5G smartphone modem

The most recent Apple phones have Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 modem

Several publications, including Fast Company and Bloomberg, have reported that Apple is working on the development of its own custom 5G modem. The modem, said to have been in the works since 2020, following the acquisition of the majority of Intel’s smartphone modem business, is expected to debut in 2023 iPhones.

The current iPhone 12 models house Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 modem, which supports both sub-6 GHz and mmWave bands of 5G, and so it can be assumed that the Apple’s modem would do the same.

This isn’t really the first news of its kind. Last year, prior to the launch of the iPhone 12, reports came out that the phone maker had decided not to use Qualcomm’s QTM 525 millimeter-wave antenna for the new device and instead designed its own. The official reason behind the decision was that it did not fit the sleek iPhone style that has become a defining feature for Apple products.

This may be true, but it also cannot be denied that the relationship between the two companies has been tense for years, with Apple has accusing Qualcomm of “double-dipping” by first seeking payment for device components and then seeking royalties on those components and Qualcomm accusing Apple of stiffing them on said royalties and not respecting the chipmaker’s terms.

In April 2019, Qualcomm agreed to move on from its legal battle with Apple and laid out a future roadmap of how the two companies will work together in the years to come. The chipmaker said that Apple will likely use the Snapdragon X60 modem in its 2021 iPhones, and the Snapdragon X65 modem in 2022 iPhones.

There was also an indication that an unannounced Snapdragon X70 modem might be used in Apple’s 2023 iPhones, a development that may not come to fruition if these recent reports are true.

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