Qualcomm Inks Mega-Deal With Apple To Supply 5G Modem Chips For iPhones Through 2026

Closeup of several iPhone 14 models.
Apple's efforts to develop 5G modem hardware for its iPhone devices is apparently taking longer than expected. That's great news for Qualcomm, though, which announced an agreement to continue supplying Snapdragon 5G modem-RF systems for future iPhone launches through at least 2026. Assuming Apple sticks to its current release cadence, the deal means Qualcomm's 5G modems will find their way into the iPhone 16, iPhone 17, and iPhone 18.

"This agreement reinforces Qualcomm’s track record of sustained leadership across 5G technologies and products," Qualcomm stated in a brief release announcing the deal.

The deal is a big win for Qualcomm as Apple continues to look into ways to design as much hardware in-house as it possibly can. One example is when Apple shifted away from using Intel's x86 processors for its Mac devices, including its MacBook laptops and Mac Pro desktop, in favor of its own Arm-based Apple Silicon. The latest generation Mac Pro, for example, wields Apple's M2 Ultra chip with a 24-core CPU (16 performance cores and 8 efficiency cores), 60-core GPU, 32-core Neural Engine, and 800GB/s of memory bandwidth.

Speaking of Intel, it's notable that Apple acquired the chip maker's modem business for $1 billion in 2019. At the time, Apple expressed excitement at the influx of IP and engineering talent that came with the deal.

"They, together with our significant acquisition of innovative IP, will help expedite our development on future products and allow Apple to further differentiate moving forward," Johny Srouji, senior vice president of hardware technologies at Apple, said at the time.

Qualcomm Snapdragon X65 graphic
Apple's iPhone 14 Pro/Pro Max feature Qualcomm's Snapdragon X65 5G modem

The timing of the expanded 5G chip deal with Qualcomm comes just one day ahead of Apple's Wonderlust event, in which it is widely anticipated that the Cupertino outfit will unveil its iPhone 15 series. This too will undoubtedly feature Qualcomm's 5G hardware inside.

Qualcomm confirmed that terms and conditions of the expanded 5G modem deal are similar to its previous agreement with Apple. Those details are not officially known, though by some estimates, Qualcomm's modem sales to Apple last year topped a whopping $7 billion, representing a sizable chunk of its total revenue.