5g IphoneSource: 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