In news that has stirred the market, it is learned that Apple has set itself a target to have an inhouse 5G modem by 2022. Apple will join the ranks of the elite club with 5G smartphones in its portfolio next year. They will come along with the 5G modem manufactured by Qualcomm. Almost all 5G phones currently in the market are fitted with 5G modems from Qualcomm, though the processor may be different like Samsung’s Exynos and Huawei’s Kirin. Apple’s plan to make its own 5G modem by 2022 looks ambitious.
Apple’s Issues with Qualcomm Part of the Delay
Part of the reason for a delay in Apple’s iPhone 5G release has been its processor/modem. The company uses in-house A-series chips. The A12 Bionic chip is featured in the latest iPhones. The next-generation chipset, the A13 will debut in 2020. However, for the 5G modem, it had to look out for external sources and there was an ongoing legal issue with Qualcomm. There was not one but several cases in courts in many countries. This sent Apple to Qualcomm’s rival Intel. That attempt did not produce the kind of outcome Apple desired. It is now public knowledge that Apple and Qualcomm buried their differences and agreed to work together again. This paved the way for Apple to start planning its iPhone 5G and the device is expected to be launched in 2020.
This also resulted in Apple buying out Intel’s mobile chipset making facility, investing $1 billion. That move has strengthened the chip-making capabilities of the company. It has brought in key personnel and put them in various positions to work on the project. EsinTerzioglu, a former VP of Engineering at Qualcomm is Apple’s “Wireless SoC Lead”.
Time to Develop 5G Modem Short
With all these developments, a layperson may gather the impression that Apple has the capacity and wherewithal to manufacture the 5G modem by 2022. However, only those with expertise in the field will tell you that it is easier said than done. Assuming that Apple’s technical team manages to develop the chip, obtaining regulatory approvals will take a long time. When a 5G modem goes into iPhones which are sold all over the world, necessary approvals will have to be obtained from each of those countries. Apple will have to start with the US Federal Communications Commission back home.
If the Fast Company report that Apple will have its 5G modem ready by 2022 becomes a reality, it will be a great achievement, by any reckoning.