Apple has been wanting to develop its own cellular modems for a long time in an attempt to match its success with CPUs. Apple spent $1 billion on Intel’s modem technology in 2019, and ever since then, the company has said that it is just a year or two away from replacing Qualcomm’s modems in new iPhones. However, those years have come and gone without any evidence of Apple actually making the switch (alleged 2021 and 2022 timelines have passed, and Qualcomm seems to think that 2023 won’t be the year either).
Despite these disappointments, the business is pressing forward with plans to broaden its wireless ambitions to include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. With the end objective of integrating Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular modem functions onto a single chip, Apple is reportedly planning to begin shipping these chips in new devices beginning in 2025.
Broadcom chipsets have been used in every Apple product with wireless networking for years. Apple has never utilised or supported Intel’s Wi-Fi or Bluetooth devices, despite the fact that Intel chips were formerly standard in Macs. In the beginning of 2020, Apple and Broadcom inked supply contracts estimated to be worth $15 billion over the course of three and a half years. Additionally, Apple is rumoured to be developing its own RF and wireless charging processors to replace Broadcom-supplied components.
Apple’s knowledge with wireless processors extends beyond its work on cellular modems in the background. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity in addition to extra functionality beyond those specified in the standard Bluetooth spec have all been provided by the W1, W2, and W3 processors utilised in a variety of AirPods and Apple Watches.
Apple is planning to release its first 5G modems “by the end of 2024 or early 2025.” According to Qualcomm, earnings from Apple’s iPhones would be “limited” by2025. This might indicate that the company is placing its bets on this year. Before purchasing Intel’s modem division in its entirety, Apple utilised a combination of Intel and Qualcomm modems in a few models of the iPhone.
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