Apple might be facing a significant setback in its plans to develop its own 5G modem for the iPhone. According to unconfirmed reports from Asia, the company has experienced several unsuccessful attempts to perfect this key component, potentially leading to the cancellation of this project.
What will Apple’s plans be?
The reports, as collected by MacRumors, have been originated by sources within Apple’s 5G modem supply chain departments and disclosed by the account yeux1122 on the Naver blog. These suggest that Apple’s efforts to develop its own modem have failed thus far. This has led the company to consider discontinuing its multi-year investment in this project. Separately, the leaker known as @Tech_Reve also indicated having heard similar reports from a supply chain source in Japan.
In 2019, Apple acquired the majority of Intel’s smartphone modem business. While staffing up the project with engineers from Intel and other hires from Qualcomm, the company executives aimed to have the modem chip ready by the fall of 2023.
Earlier this month, Mark Gurman informed us that Apple was still facing challenges in its attempt to develop a 5G modem to replace Qualcomm’s 5G modems in the iPhone and other products. It was reported that the modem’s release had been postponed until late 2025 or early 2026, but Apple supposedly still planned to introduce the technology in the iPhone SE.
It’s too early to tell if the impediments in chip development could lead to the cancellation of the project. In recent years, Apple has transitioned many of its key components to in-house production. The truth is, due to their high secrecy, we are completely unaware of the impediments they encountered in developing Apple Silicon chips. Therefore, given the importance of a communication chip in devices — including a 5G-enabled MacBook — one must approach the idea of Apple abandoning the project with caution. We’ll see how events unfold.