Apple's iPhone modem woes continue as delays mean it's dangerously close to a Qualcomm deadline

5G on iPhone
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple is getting dangerously close to having to extend its deal to use Qualcomm 5G modems in future iPhones it seems, with the company struggling to design its own.

Apple has been working to design its own 5G modems for years, keen to ditch Qualcomm and bring another key part of the iPhone's design and manufacturing in-house. But a new report claims that the company is again falling behind plans to make the switch, with 2026 now looking likely to be the year when it could have a winner.

However, that's the year that Apple's existing, and already extended, Qualcomm deal comes to an end and it's unlikely that Apple will want to leave it that late to make a decision about extending it.

Ongoing problems

Apple has been working on its own modem since it bought Intel's modem business for a cool $1 billion back in 2019 but has so far been unable to make it work. Specifically, reports have already claimed that miniaturization problems have plagued the project.

Now, Bloomberg reports that things haven't progressed as hoped.

"Apple Inc. has fallen further behind in its multibillion-dollar effort to make a modem chip for the iPhone, stymied by the complexity of replacing an intricate Qualcomm Inc. component," the report says, adding that "Apple is now likely to miss a goal to ship the component by the spring of 2025, according to people familiar with the situation. That would postpone the release until at least the end of 2025 or early 2026."

That would leave Apple in the unenviable position of potentially having to go to Qualcomm to extend its deal once more. It's an open secret that Apple wants to cut Qualcomm out of its products which could make those negotiations interesting, to say the least.  Apple will no doubt hope it doesn't have to have them.

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.