Apple

Apple developing custom WiFi, Bluetooth, and 5G chips for iPhone – 9to5Mac


Apple has been working on developing its own modem for several years, looking to reduce its reliance on Qualcomm. A new report from Bloomberg today says that this switchover could begin as soon as 2024, while also adding that Apple is developing its own WiFi and Bluetooth chip as well. This would allow it to also ditch Broadcom in addition to Qualcomm.

Apple and Qualcomm were engaged in a nasty legal battle over licensing, patent, and royalty disagreements related to modem chips. While the lawsuits were settled at the last minute, Apple has made it clear that its focus is on developing its own modem technology for future iPhone and iPad devices.

To boost these efforts, Apple completed an acquisition of Intel’s modem business in 2019. This gave the company access to engineering talent and a wide collection of standard-essential patents related to cellular technology. Apple will still have to license some patents from Qualcomm and Ericsson, though, even when it switches to in-house modems.

The new in-house modem from Apple was slated for a release as soon as this year, but Bloomberg says that “development snags” have pushed this back to late 2024 or early 2025.

As part of the shift, Apple also aims to ready its first cellular modem chip by the end of 2024 or early 2025, letting it swap out electronics from Qualcomm Inc., said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. Apple had been previously expected to replace the Qualcomm part as soon as this year, but development snags have pushed back the timeline.

To ditch Broadcom, Apple is reportedly developing a combo Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chip that could debut as soon as 2025. It’s also working on a follow up version of this chip that combines the cellular modem, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth tech all into a single chip.

Apple also relies on Broadcom for other iPhone components, including radio-frequency chips and wireless charging components, but Apple “has been working on customizing those parts as well,” according to Bloomberg.

9to5Mac’s Take

While Apple’s plans to switch to in-house modem technology has been reported numerous times, this is the first we’ve heard about its plans for an in-house Bluetooth and Wi-Fi chip as well. It all lines up with Tim Cook’s belief that Apple should control the most important components of the iPhone itself.

All of this is a major undertaking for Apple, as the company has historically relied heavily on third-party partners for these crucial components. These are the types of changes that require years of testing in the real-world, so it will be interesting to see how Apple rolls everything out.

The most interesting aspect of today’s report is that Apple is also working on a chip that combines all three of these things into one: bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular. While this may not seem like a big deal on the surface, it could be a major improvement to efficiency and therefore signficantly boost iPhone battery life.

Are you nervous to see Apple switch from Broadcom and Qualcomm for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular connectivity? Let us know down in the commnets.

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