Apple’s In-House Modem Plans Fall Further; Qualcomm Deal Extended Until 2027

Apple Qualcomm deal extended
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In Short
  • Apple extends its deal with Qualcomm to continue using the company's 5G modem chips until March 2027.
  • Qualcomm CEO, Cristiano Amon, confirmed this news during the company's first earning call of 2024.
  • For a few years, Apple has been working on an in-house modem chip but it has seen several delays.

Last year, Apple announced that it would extend its modem licensing deal with Qualcomm to continue using their 5G modems until 2026. Now, the Cupertino tech giant has extended its global patent license agreement with Qualcomm until March 2027. So we will likely see the Qualcomm 5G modems in several upcoming iPhone generations.

Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon confirmed this news during the company’s first earning call of 2024. Amon said that “Qualcomm will continue to license its 5G modems to Apple until March 2027.” He further added that previously, the Apple-Qualcomm deal was already extended until 2026.

qualcomm x70 modem iphone
Image Courtesy: iFixit

However, this news didn’t come as a surprise. Apple has been working hard to develop its own 5G modems for several years now. We have heard several rumors that Apple wasn’t happy with its relationship with Qualcomm and didn’t want to rely on them for 5G chips. Since Apple’s progress has seen several delays, it had no choice but to stick to a strained relationship for a bit longer. It’s worth knowing that Apple hasn’t made any comment on the extended license with Qualcomm.

In 2019, Apple purchased Intel’s modem patents for $1 billion and more than 2,200 Intel employees to begin in-house modem development. However, this wasn’t enough to help Apple. The team has to rewrite the code, and adding new features would break the existing features. Also, Apple didn’t want to mess up with Qualcomm’s patents during its modem development.

In the previous years, we’ve seen several reports suggesting that Apple is at least three years behind Qualcomm in terms of developing a chip that can perform better or even the same as Qualcomm’s.

In 2023, Bloomberg reported that Apple postponed its 5G modem chips until late 2025 or 2026, and we’re likely to see further delays as well. Initially, Apple aimed to have an in-house modem chip ready by 2024, but it didn’t happen. Later, the giant wanted to launch the iPhone SE 4  (expected to launch in spring 2025) with its in-house modem. Currently, we don’t see Apple meeting this either. More recently, it was reported that Apple has given up on its 5G modem development plans.

Of course, the upcoming iPhone 16 series will ship with Qualcomm’s 5G modem chips. Talking about the iPhone 16 Pro models, they will pack a brand-new X75 modem that’s touted to bring 5G improvements. 

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