There's no question that Apple is working on its own in-house modem that will be used in future iPhones and iPads (and potentially MacBooks). The company has been hiring scores of engineers and expanding its presence in San Diego, which just so happens to be where Qualcomm HQ is located.
With this in mind, it may still be quite a few years before we see Apple's own homegrown chips ship in production iPhones; that's according to a new report from The Information. Sources within Apple that spoke with the publication alleged that Apple’s 5G modem won't be ready until 2025 at the earliest. Previously, it had been thought that Apple could field its own 5G modem in 2021.
If this news is indeed accurate, Apple will be solely reliant on Qualcomm modems for at least the next 6 years. If you recall, Apple and Qualcomm entered into a new long-term partnership and chip licensing settlement a month ago. Per the settlement, the two companies also agreed to drop all litigation on multiple fronts globally.
Apple's previous exclusive modem partner, Intel, announced that it was abandoning its modem development just hours after Apple and Qualcomm announced their truce. “In the smartphone modem business it has become apparent that there is no clear path to profitability and positive returns,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan back in May.
Looking forward, Intel is hoping to put its modem division up for sale. Intel released the following statement to The Information regarding its plans:
We have world-class 5G modem technology that very few companies have the IP and expertise to deliver. That's why many companies have expressed interest in acquiring our cellular modem assets since our recent announcement that we are assessing our options to realize the value we have created.
According to earlier reports, Apple is reportedly interested in acquiring Intel's assets and would no doubt use the purchase to bolster its 5G modem development, and perhaps push up the timetable for its own modem release.