While it’s not nearly as exciting as a new iPhone 15 render or leak, Qualcomm spilled a bit of Apple news at Mobile World Congress this week. According to CEO Cristiano Amon, the clock is ticking on the company’s multi-year commitment to deliver 5G modems for the iPhone.
In an interview with CNBC, Amon said, “We’re making no plans for 2024, my planning assumption is we’re not providing [Apple] a modem in ’24, but it’s their decision to make.” Apple has used Qualcomm’s 5G modems since the iPhone 12 debuted the new wireless connectivity, and it is expected that the iPhone 15 will also include a Qualcomm part, likely the X70. The iPhone 14 uses Qualcomm’s X65 modem.
Apple has been working on its own 5G modem for years. In 2019, it acquired “the majority” of Intel’s smartphone modem business after Intel announced it was halting modem development. Apple has reportedly been working on its own version of a 5G modem since early 2020.
Earlier this week, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that Apple would debut the modem in the next iPhone SE, which currently uses Qualcomm’s X57 modem and only supports the slower sub-6GHz 5G. The X65 modem in the iPhone 14 supports both sub-6GHz and the higher-speed mmWave.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this from Qualcomm. Last year, the company also expected Apple to move to its own modems for the iPhone 14, but Apple reportedly hit a roadblock in its development. It’s not clear whether Amon’s comments are speculative or based on industry analysis and rumors.
Once Apple debuts the modem in the iPhone, it’s expected to quickly arrive in its other products as well, including the iPad and Apple Watch.