Apple has officially secured Intel’s modem business for $1 billion, and that lays out a stable foundation for the company to commence development work of an in-house 5G modem, of which we’ve heard countless reports about. For the time being, Apple is expected to rely on Qualcomm for its 5G solutions, which isn’t a surprise given the California-based giant settled past grievances and buried their longstanding legal skirmish for reportedly a hefty sum. The latest development into the story is that now, with all the resources the company could hope for, Apple is reported to come with the first in-house 5G-ready products by 2021.
Industry Experts Have Earlier Weighed Their Estimates That Apple Will Not Be Able to Complete Its in-House 5G Modem Until 2025 Due to Numerous Complexities
According to Reuters, the publication has stated that a person familiar with the matter says that Apple’s first range of products sporting the company’s in-house 5G modem could arrive as early as 2021. This sounds like an ambitious venture, but it’s mostly due to Apple wanting to have that ‘Independence’ factor and reduce reliance on the likes of Qualcomm and Samsung.
Experts claim that Apple needed to bury the hatchet and fortify its relationship with Qualcomm, as it would take years for the company to come up with its cellular solution. This could also be the reason why Apple was reportedly willing to pay Qualcomm a handsome sum of money, and not just this; Apple will also be paying the chipset maker approximately $9 per iPhone sold. Also, Apple will slowly transition its products towards its in-house 5G modem, meaning that a large shipment of its products will still comprise up of Qualcomm chips.
That being said, it will take several years before it decides to severe its partnership with the modem supplier. Other industry watchers have commented that 2021 is too early for something like an in-house 5G modem to materialize. A previous report claims Apple’s 5G modem completion timeline could take as long as 2025 to finish. The reason for this is that unlike making a mobile SoC, there are several complications that come with designing and developing a modem from scratch.
A company like Apple will have to take into account that making it work well with global networks, and perform even the most basic of tasks that consume data such as opening browsers isn’t as simple as it sounds.
How Apple Plans to Speed up in-House 5G Development Work?
Coming back to the report, Apple is apparently tied to Taiwan’s Global Unichip, which is a chip design house. The two entities are seemingly exploring a modem design, but the work is in its early stages at the moment. This suggests that Apple has a long road ahead, with a lot more development roadblocks expected before it has a workable solution on its hands.
For 2020, Apple will most likely source 5G modems from both Qualcomm and Samsung, since hiring two suppliers gives the company better pricing leverage per unit. For 2021, it is rumored that Apple will launch the first 5G-ready iPad Pro, but it isn’t confirmed if the slate is expected to use a baseband solution from Qualcomm, Samsung, or Apple’s in-house facility. Both the Cupertino tech firm and Global Unichip have declined to comment on their plans at this current time, so it’s highly likely we’ll hear about their chip design plans in the future.
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News Source: Reuters