iPhone 15 rumours: Apple could switch to in-house 5G modems in 2023

Highlights
  • Apple will reportedly use its own 5G modems on iPhones by 2023. 
  • Currently, all iPhones use Qualcomm’s 5G modems due to contractual obligations. 
  • Qualcomm could be forced to focus more on the mid to low-cost market to make up for lost sales post-2023. 

Some time ago, Apple and Qualcomm had a very public spat with regard to some intellectual property and patent laws. While both companies resolved the issue amicably, there could still be some bad blood between the two. However, this hasn’t stopped Apple from using Qualcomm 5G modems in its current iPhones. This is all set to change by 2023, according to renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Apple has already started work on its in-house 5G modems, and they are expected to show up on the 2023 iPhone aka iPhone 15. He had the following to say about the matter:

“We predict that the ‌iPhone‌ will adopt Apple’s own design 5G baseband chips in 2023 at the earliest. As Android sales in the high-end 5G phone market are sluggish, Qualcomm will be forced to compete for more orders in the low-end market to compensate for Apple’s order loss. When the supply constraints improve, MediaTek and Qualcomm will have less bargaining power over brands, resulting in significantly higher competitive pressure in the mid to low- end market,” Kuo said in an investor note (via MacRumors).

Apple’s decision to use in-house hardware for modems is hardly surprising. It did, after all, pay a pretty penny to acquire Intel’s modem division. Even with the massive resources that Apple has at its disposal, it is unlikely that it will be able to come up with a modem to rival Qualcomm. However, an in-house modem will give Apple more control over its ecosystem, something that has been integral to its success. 

Kuo adds that Apple’s decision to ditch Qualcomm would result in a more competitive market overall. Currently, MediaTek dominates the low-cost 5G modem market with its Dimensity chips, with Qualcomm focusing more on high-end offerings. Once Apple is out of the equation, Qualcomm will have to look at other places to make up for lost sales, resulting in it competing with MediaTek in the affordable smartphone market.