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Apple’s 5G modem chip not expected to be ready for iPhone 17 series, according to new report

Apple and Qualcomm had a turbulent relationship and were engaged in constant legal battles. To avoid dealing with Qualcomm, Apple had previously assigned Intel the task of developing a 5G modem chip. However, this arrangement didn’t work out, and Apple eventually paid Qualcomm a significant sum of money to settle all lawsuits and obtain 5G modem chips. This happened in 2018, a couple of years before the iPhone 12 line became the first to support 5G.

Initially, Apple had hoped to have its in-house 5G modem chip ready for the iPhone 15 series, which was not possible. The next target was the 2025 iPhone 17 series, but it appears that this will not be achieved, as per Bloomberg.

In September, Apple and Qualcomm signed a deal to ensure that Apple will be supplied with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 5G modem chips through 2026. This recent development is significant because Apple may not be able to produce its 5G modem chip until the end of 2025. This setback puts Qualcomm in an advantageous position, considering that they expected to have a small share of the iPhone 5G modem chip business by 2024.

The journey of building its own 5G modem chip has been challenging for Apple. Previous tests revealed that the homegrown chip was large, slow, and prone to overheating. Consequently, Apple decided to continue using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X-series 5G modem chip for the iPhone 15 line and will employ the Snapdragon X70 5G modem. With the recent deal with Qualcomm covering Apple through 2026, Apple has a limited time to develop its 5G modem chip. If it becomes evident that Apple cannot accomplish this in time for the 2027 iPhone 19, an extension of the contract with Qualcomm could be anticipated.

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