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iPhone 15 to continue using 5G Qualcomm modems rather than Apple’s own chips

Updated Nov 3rd, 2022 1:14PM EDT
iPhone 14 design.
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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The iPhone 15 series should deliver a few notable changes next year. Apple should make the switch to USB-C on all models. Moreover, the Pro Max variant should be called iPhone 15 Ultra and feature a periscope lens. But these are just rumors at this time. What seems more certain is Apple’s 5G Qualcomm modem choice for the iPhone 15 series.

Apple has been working for years on developing its own 5G modem for iPhone and iPad. But the company has been employing Qualcomm’s chips in its products since the two companies settled their legal fight a few years ago.

Per Bloomberg, Qualcomm will provide the 5G modem chips for the “vast majority” of iPhones in 2023. That’s a significant development for the chipmaker, as Qualcomm had expected to start losing business to Apple’s custom 5G chip as soon as this year.

The company had planned to provide only 20% of the 5G modem parts for the 2023 iPhones. But Qualcomm now expects to retain most orders for the iPhone 15 series. The development comes from Qualcomm’s earnings report released on Wednesday. The chipmaker confirmed that Apple wouldn’t switch to its own 5G modems this year.

Qualcomm continues to believe that it will receive only minimal revenue contributions from Apple in the fiscal year 2025.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Dynamic Island
iPhone 14 Pro’s Dynamic Island in action. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Bloomberg says that Apple won’t begin a switch to its own modem chips at least until 2024. The iPhone maker reportedly encountered overheating issues with its 5G chips, which must be fixed.

Apple moving to its own 5G modem chips is the kind of move we’ve always expected from the company. Apple tries to develop its own processors and key parts for its hardware products. A custom 5G modem could come in handy in future devices beyond the iPhone and iPad. MacBooks and AR/VR headsets of the future could benefit from always-on 5G connectivity.

As for the iPhone 15 series, the 2023 devices should deliver reliable 5G experiences regardless of whether Qualcomm provides the cellular modem. It’s too early to tell what to expect when it comes to 5G performance or efficiency gains from the next iPhone modem.

For Qualcomm, keeping Apple’s iPhone business for at least one more year is certainly great news. But the chipmaker still has to deal with the current slump in the smartphone business. Qualcomm delivered a much weaker forecast than expected, with stock prices falling 8.4% in late trading.

More Apple coverage: For more Apple news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.