Apple's next big 5G iPhone upgrade is still two years away

iPhone 14 Pro Max Deep Purple and iPhone 14 Pro Space Black
(Image credit: Future)

Like the M-chips that came first, Apple seems to be looking internally to develop another element of its products — although this time it’s a little less dramatic than ditching the biggest CPU maker in the world. According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, it looks like Apple might be making its own 5G modem chips as soon as 2025, ditching current manufacturer Qualcomm in the process.

The ever-reliable Kuo takes to his medium to discuss the future woes of Qualcomm, detailing the many companies that will potentially no longer be using the company's chips in their devices — chiefly Huawei, but Apple is amongst those he mentions.

That would be for the iPhone 17 (which, given we’ve not even got the iPhone 15 yet, feels like a long old time away), so there’s no chance we’ll see anything about it at the upcoming Apple event

Apple made 5G chips — what does that mean for us?

At the moment, Apple finds itself beholden to the development goals of Qualcomm rather than Cupertino. That means that Apple might not get exactly what it wants from the customer chips that it slips into the iPhones and iPads that flood out of its factory.

By taking production and development into its own hands, Apple will be able to make the chip that it wants. That could mean making the chips more powerful so that iPhone 5G connections are quicker, or making them more efficient to improve battery life. Like the move to Apple silicon, it will allow Apple more freedom when it comes to what goes into its device, but also less reliance on what can be very volatile markets. In the future as well, it will ultimately save money on the iPhone, allowing for more money to be spent on development elsewhere in the device.

Apple 5G chips: iMore’s take

Okay, so this might not be the earth-shattering shift that came with M1, but it does mean big things for what future iPhones will look like and how they will perform. On the user end, the most we’ll actually see will be the perceived performance gains, rather than what it means for business as a whole.

Qualcomm, however, will feel the hit most of all. Apple may be one of the firm's biggest customers, given that Qualcomm modems are used in a multitude of Apple devices from iPhones to iPads. Given that other phone makers are also moving from Qualcomm, like Chinese brand Huawei, it could be an interesting time to be in the modem-making profession.

But none of that will affect us when we pick our new iPhone off the shelf — and it will be a while until we’ll even see an Apple-made modem chip in our best iPhone. Either way, it’s definitely not coming to the upcoming iPhone 15 family.

Tammy Rogers
Senior Staff Writer

As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.