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Apple’s custom-made 5G modem might debut in the iPhone 15

Published Mar 11th, 2021 5:45PM EST
Apple 5G modem
Image: Apple Inc.

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Weeks after Apple revealed the iPhone 12, the company hosted another virtual event to announce the M1 chip, which is the first computer chip that it has ever designed in-house. The M1 currently powers multiple MacBook models, and over the next two years, the company plans to transition its entire lineup to Apple silicon.

Apple has been designing its own chips since the A4 in 2010, which powered the iPhone 4, and in the coming years, even more homegrown chipsets are expected. In fact, in a new research note seen by MacRumors, Barclays analysts Blayne Curtis and Thomas O’Malley claimed that Apple will debut its custom-designed 5G cellular modem in all 2023 iPhone models, which, for the purposes of this article, we’ll refer to as the iPhone 15.

As MacRumors points out, this isn’t the first we’ve heard about Apple’s 5G modem.

“After buying Intel’s 5G modem business earlier this year, Apple is wasting no time building its own 5G modem for the iPhone,” Fast Company’s Mark Sullivan reported back in October 2019. “The company is pushing to have its modem in iPhones by 2022, a very aggressive timeline given all the development, testing, and certification work involved, a source with knowledge of the company’s plans said.”

Over a year later, Apple senior vice president of hardware technologies Johny Srouji confirmed that the company was working on a new cellular modem during a town hall meeting with employees (via Bloomberg):

This year, we kicked off the development of our first internal cellular modem which will enable another key strategic transition. Long-term strategic investments like these are a critical part of enabling our products and making sure we have a rich pipeline of innovative technologies for our future.

Right now, Apple uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 modems in its iPhone 12 models, and a lawsuit revealed that Apple will likely continue to use Qualcomm’s 5G modems in 2021 and 2022. Specifically, the document stated that Apple would use the Snapdragon X55 chipset in its 2020 phones, the X60 in its 2021 phones, the X65 in its 2022 phones, and possibly the X70 in its 2023 phones, although that may no longer be the case.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.