Apple has been planning to move away from using Qualcomm modems in its smartphones, ever since the dispute in 2018. A new report by Nikkei Asia suggests that the company will start using its own custom in-house made modems starting 2023. The company has been rumoured to be working on such a project for sometime now, having acquired the modem division from Intel.
The report goes on to add that the custom 5G modems will be based on a 4nm architecture. The modem chips will be manufactured by TSMC, the longtime Apple partner in producing chips. TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) has been manufacturing Apple designed chips for years.
In-house design approach for all products
Apple previously used to design only the chips that power the iPhone and the iPad. Last year, the company also started designing its own chips for the Mac. The company plans to transition to its own ‘Apple Silicon’ for the Mac from Intel by mid of 2022. The MacBook Air, the 13” MacBook Pro, and the Mac mini were the first to use custom ARM based in-house designed chips.
For years, Apple faced issues with Qualcomm in terms of patent disputes. The company was believed to be having dropped Qualcomm modems from its phones in 2018. However, the recently released iPhone 13 flagship smartphone series uses a modem designed by Intel. The iPhone 13 uses the Qualcomm X60 for network related work.
Last year, Apple had confirmed that it was indeed working on its own 5G modem chips. The company then went on to start a R&D center in Germany (Munich). The company continues on its path to design its own parts rather than outsourcing or purchasing ready made components. As a result, the products made by Apple tend to be more tightly packed and optimised (software) in terms of real-world use .