Custom Apple Modems: The 5G Future

There have been rumors of Apple working on their own cellular modems for years. They're mainly LTE right now but 5G is on the horizon and they're already speccing out 6G beyond that. So, it's a critical part of the hardware we all use every day and Apple likes to control all of those parts.

The rumors picked up recently when Apple settled with Qualcomm, the biggest modem maker in the game, and Intel, who'd been providing Apple with modems during the spat, announced they'd be getting out of the business now that the other two had made up.

But that left Intel's modem portfolio up for grabs. And, much like Apple once bought PA Semi, licensed ARM's IP, and began making custom A-series chipsets for iPhones and iPads, the rumor here is that Apple will buy that modem business, license Qualcomm IP, and begin making custom modems as well.

To help me sort the facts from the wishful thinking, I've got Ben Bajarin on the line. Principle at Creative Strategies and founder of TechPinions. Just hit play on the video above and watch or listen along.

Apple's a patient company. Their chipset team went from zero to industry-leading in well under a decade. Now they're starting to do the same with an AI team.

And when you look at the benefits of bringing radio technologies in-house, alongside chipsets and machine learning, the efficiencies and performance that become possible are, at least in my opinion, too great to ignore.

So, whether Apple buys Intel's modem business or not, I expect in well under a decade we'll be using iPhones, Apple Watches, and maybe more, with industry-leading modems as well.

But now I want to know what you think. Should Apple get into the modem business and, if so, should they use Intel as a springboard to do it?

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Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.