Apple has been developing its own chipsets and modem as it aims to get rid of its dependence on third-party suppliers. The ongoing legal battle with Qualcomm forced Apple to switch entirely to modems from Intel for iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR launched this year. Last month, reports emerged that Apple is trying to recruit Qualcomm employees under a new division tasked with the process of building a new modem.
Now, a new report from The Information says that Apple is indeed working on a custom cellular modem, that could be used on iPhones as early as 2019. The report cites a recent job listing confirming the new chip effort within the company. In the job listing, Apple says it is looking for a cellular modem systems architect to work in its San Diego office.
The publication also claims to have heard from an anonymous source familiar with the cellular modem plans that there is an active project. The report adds that an Apple-designed cellular modem could take as long as three years to land in an iPhone or other Apple devices.
Apple already designs its own mobile chipsets, which are fabricated using TSMC’s latest process. The company, in the past, relied on cellular modem from Qualcomm and Intel and after a messy legal battle with Qualcomm, moved to Intel for its entire iPhone lineup this year. However, it has not been a good experience with Intel for the iPhone maker.
There have been multiple reports that Intel is running behind schedule with the development of its 4G LTE and 5G modem. In terms of performance as well, Intel’s modems have been found to lag behind Qualcomm’s modems in peak download speed. While first batch of 5G smartphones powered by Qualcomm modems are expected to arrive sometime early this year, Intel is not expected to ship its 5G modem until first half of 2020.
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While Android OEMs will have shipped 5G smartphones for more than a year, Apple is seen to miss out on the initial 5G wave. There are also concerns around the reliability of Intel’s chips and switch to its own cellular modem could lead to even tighter integration with its own main processor. Apple is also believed to be working on integrating its own A-series CPU inside Macs as early as 2020.