Apple’s Rumored Custom Cellular Modem May Not Launch Until 2025

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The cellular modem situation for Apple’s iPhones (and iPads) has been in a bit of a rocky state lately. But it looks like the settlement with Qualcomm may have finally calmed things down. At least as far as third-party help is concerned. But what about Apple’s custom cellular modem dreams? Those may have been pushed back a bit.

The Information has a new in-depth look at the relationship between Apple and Intel. It starts with a story about Apple’s Johny Srouji, who, back in early 2017, was in charge of building chips for Apple’s various devices. According to the report, Srouji was not happy with Intel and its lackluster cellular modem Apple was planning to use:

“It was early 2017 and Apple was preparing a new line of iPhones to be released the next year, but the Intel modem for the devices, known as the 7560, wasn’t working properly, according to two people with knowledge of the relationship. The new iPhones would mark the first time Apple would rely exclusively on Intel for modems—a chip that handles the cellular connectivity in phones—instead of those from its longtime provider, Qualcomm. Intel had already overhauled the modem four times to bring it up to par with the latest Qualcomm modem. But missed deadlines and continuing technical issues with the chip were making Apple executives anxious, said one of the people.”

Things were not going well for Intel in this regard. Teams were not coming together to build the cellular modem up to par, among other issues.

But, looking ahead, Apple has options again. We’ve heard that Apple will be tapping Qualcomm to handle 5G modems for future iPhones (and probably iPads). Intel, for its part, has officially announced that it has abandoned the 5G mobile cellular market. There were early reports that Intel was having issues developing its 5G modem, and, as such, Apple would miss its rumored 2020 launch expectation for its first 5G iPhone.

Since then, we’ve heard that Apple held discussions with Intel to buy that company’s cellular modem business. That would have helped Apple build its own custom cellular modem. Initial reports suggested Apple was planning on launching its first custom cellular modem in 2021. However, this new report suggests Apple’s plans have been pushed back a bit, now slated to launch in 2025.

The full report is an interesting read. You can check it out through the source link below.

Our Take

Things were definitely a bit of a mess for Apple for quite some time. It feels like Apple had to lean on Intel, even when it wasn’t prepared for that, due to its issues with Qualcomm. That may have impacted the company’s own internal plans to develop another custom-built chip. But now that the road seems a bit smoother now, maybe the plans can get back into full swing.

[via The Information]

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