5G in iPhones became a thing last year with the iPhone 12 series and going forward, Apple is going to put 5G support in almost all its mobile devices; the latest example being the 5G iPad Pro. Hence, it is only expected that Apple will soon try to make its own 5G chip to continue being self-reliant. Rumours had hinted at a 5G modem-based iPhone launching in 2022 but there seems to be a delay now.
Renowned analyst Ming-Chi Kuo now says that Apple’s first attempt at a 5G modem will be commercially available in 2023. This prediction also coincides with one from a team of analysts at Barclays, hinting at a 2023 release for Apple’s 5G modem. Similar to the Qualcomm 5G modems, Apple’s version is expected to feature support for both sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G networks.
Apple 5G modem to release in 2023
Currently, Apple is relying on Qualcomm for its 5G modems. In fact, reports have mentioned that Apple has placed orders for Qualcomm’s 5G modems for its iPhones through 2022 and even 2023. This seems to point at a backup plan in case Apple is unable to finish its 5G modems in time for the 2023 iPhones. Qualcomm is supplying the Snapdragon X55 5G modem for the iPhone 12 series at the moment.
Prior to this, Apple fell into a dispute with Qualcomm over patent design and eventually broke the deal. The Cupertino-based company switched to Intel modems from 2018 as a result. Intel, however, was struggling to make profits and ended up selling the modem business to Apple in 2019. Since then, Apple is working on getting its own 5G modem right.
If Apple is successful in launching the 5G modem in 2023, it could spell disaster for Qualcomm due to the large cancellation of orders. Kuo says that this will push Qualcomm to offer more 5G designs in the midrange and entry-level smartphone spaces. 5G is currently restricted to premium smartphones, where both Qualcomm and MediaTek are driving forces.
On the other hand, the iPhone 13 series is expected to launch on schedule this year, i.e., in September 2021. Apple is expected to shorten the display notch, add 120Hz displays to the Pro models, improve the cameras, and offer LiDAR sensors on all models.