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Apple likely to begin using in-house 5G modem as soon as 2023: Analyst

According to an Apple analyst, the company will begin using its own 5G baseband chips in the iPhone 15, which is expected in a couple of years. 

Apple's iPhone currently relies on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 5G modems.  Apple's iPhone currently relies on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 5G modems. 
Apple's iPhone currently relies on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 5G modems.  (Unsplash)

Apple already makes some of the best in-house mobile processors on the market, with its A-series and recently released M1 chipsets far ahead of the competition in terms of performance and efficiency. The company is also working on replacing its use of Qualcomm’s 5G modems with its own in-house modems on its smartphones – with the first such device expected in 2023.

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According to a report by MacRumors, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently revealed in a note to investors that Apple was likely to adopt its own 5G baseband chips in 2023 “at the earliest”. The Cupertino company has been working on its own modem designs since at least last year, a year after the company bought chipmaker Intel’s smartphone modem business, along with staff who were working on 5G related projects.

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This is good news for Apple, but Kuo says that Qualcomm’s business will take a hit due to the loss of orders from the iPhone maker once it starts making its own 5G capable chips. The analyst is likely referring to the heavy volume of Apple’s devices that make up a large chunk of the premium smartphone segment. The report quotes Kuo stating that Qualcomm could even have to compete with smaller players like Mediatek in the affordable smartphone category.

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While we do not know anything concrete about Apple’s upcoming new 5G baseband, it could offer improvements over the third party integration with Qualcomm. On Android, Qualcomm has some of the fastest 5G modems, but Apple's modem performance could be even better given what Apple offers on the CPU performance front with its tight integration between hardware and software. However, according to Kuo, Qualcomm chips are likely to feature on the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 — while the iPhone 15 could be the first Apple smartphone to feature the new modem, which is expected in 2023.

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