Report: TSMC expected to begin Apple 5G modem production in 2023

5g Iphone
5g Iphone (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • TSMC is expected to begin manufacturing 5G modems for Apple in 2023.
  • Apple is already expected to begin using its own 5G parts in 2023, likely beginning with iPhones.

While modern handsets like iPhone 13 already have 5G built in, they use modems from Qualcomm. That's all going to change in 2023 with reports already suggesting that's when Apple will switch to modems designed by its own teams — and a new report backs that up with the news that chipmaker TSMC will begin building Apple's modems in the same year.

That report comes via Nikkei Asia, with Apple said to have developed "its own radio frequency and millimeter wave components to complement the modem."

Apple is forging a closer partnership with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. in hopes of reducing its reliance on Qualcomm, Nikkei Asia has learned, with plans to have the Taiwanese chip titan make 5G iPhone modems from 2023.

The loss of Apple business will be no surprise to Qualcomm, of course. The world has been expecting Apple to design its own parts since it bought the majority of Intel's modem business a couple of years ago. Qualcomm does expect to still produce around 20% of Apple's modems, however, likely for use in some iPads and perhaps some iPhones — depending on where they are sold and which models they are.

Apple has long believed that the best iPhone is one that doesn't rely on a third-party's design for critical components and modems are an example of that. Apple already designs its own CPU and GPU systems with huge success and it will be hugely interesting to see what the company's engineering wizards come up with in terms of a 5G modem that hopefully performs well while reducing the power consumption of the existing Qualcomm solution

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.