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Apple is in the midst of switching from Intel to ARM chips for its Mac hardware, but it hasn’t forgotten about iDevices and is apparently now working to replace the third-party cellular modems it relies on with an Apple-designed alternative.
As Bloomberg reports, news of Apple working on its own modem came via Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technologies. During a town hall meeting with Apple employees Srouji said, “This year, we kicked off the development of our first internal cellular modem which will enable another key strategic transition … Long-term strategic investments like these are a critical part of enabling our products and making sure we have a rich pipeline of innovative technologies for our future.”
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, not only because Apple continues to bring components in-house, but because the intent to develop a modem was made clear with the acquisition of Intel’s 5G modem business last year. For now, Apple relies on Qualcomm for its iPhone modems, with the iPhone 12 using the Qualcomm X55 5G.
Meanwhile, Qualcomm’s new X60 modem is expected to be at the heart of 2021 5G phones, but will that include the next iPhone? It seems likely if Apple only started working on a modem design this year. Also, Apple settled its lawsuits and signed a mulit-year chipset supply arrangement with Qualcomm in 2019. That offers Apple the time it needs to perfect its own modem without disrupting yearly iPhone launches.
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