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Apple Aims To Bring Its Own 5G Chips To iPhone In 2023: Analyst

The Apple-designed modems could improve speeds and eliminate the company’s reliance on Qualcomm.

Apple could phase out its reliance on 5G modems from Qualcomm as soon as 2023, with plans to adopt internally designed 5G chips for the iPhone by that time, according to reports on a research note from well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple launched its first 5G-enabled iPhones last fall with the iPhone 12 series, using 5G modems from Qualcomm. However, Apple’s acquisition of Intel’s 5G modem business in 2019 has set the stage for Apple to design its own 5G chips for use in iPhones rather than using Qualcomm modems.

[Related: Solution Providers: $1B Apple-Intel Smartphone Modem Deal Undermines Qualcomm]

A new research note from Kuo—an analyst at TF International Securities who has frequently made correct Apple predictions in the past—points to 2023 as the earliest possible date for debuting the Apple-designed 5G modems.

Apple and Qualcomm did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on Monday. Qualcomm’s stock tumbled more than 5 percent on the news, trading at $130.63 Monday. Apple’s stock was down 1.77 percent to $127.91.

MacRumors reported on Kuo’s research note, saying that Apple’s 5G chips will be aimed at improving speeds and reducing latency for the iPhone. 

Apple would also have the chance to eliminate Qualcomm as a supplier by using its own 5G modems. Apple and Qualcomm spent years battling in court over multiple legal disputes, which ended with a settlement between the two companies in April 2019.

In July 2019, Apple announced a $1 billion deal to acquire Intel’s 5G modem business.

The research note from Kuo also comes as Apple continues to expand its efforts around in-house chips for its other product lines. The Apple-designed M1 chip is available in several Mac models and is now coming to the iPad Pro as well. The M1, announced in November, kicked off a two-year transition for Apple away from using Intel processors.

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