Apple has reportedly set an aggressive 2022 deadline to develop in-house 5G modems as part of a system-on-a-chip (SoC) design to be used in future iPhones and iPads, claims a new report today.
According to Fast Company, Apple plans to have completed all the development, testing, and certification necessary by the new deadline to be able to include the modems in new iPhones the same year.
However, given the arduous testing and certification process required after the chip design and fabrication is complete, a two-years deadline for the modem is “really pushing it,” according to the report’s source, who is said to have knowledge of Apple’s plans.
The main stumbling block is said to be the network optimization testing that’s necessary to make sure the modem doesn’t conflict with the wireless networks of other carriers. In addition, tests are needed to ensure compliance with global standards, not to mention the ability of the modem to satisfy FCC requirements.
Given those hurdles, Fast Company’s source believes 2023 may be a more realistic completion date for Apple’s SoC modem.
Apple agreed to acquire the majority of Intel’s smartphone modem business in June, with a view to accelerating the development of its own 5G modem. A previous source claimed the iPhone maker wants to have an in-house chip ready for use in some of its products by 2021, while earlier sources reported timeframes of between 2022 and 2025.
Whatever the timeline is and regardless of whether Apple is able to stick to it, the company’s transition to custom 5G modems will likely happen in phases, starting with lower-end and older models of devices. Apple has a multiyear chipset supply agreement with Qualcomm, and a six-year patent license agreement, so it doesn’t exactly have to rush the process.
In the meantime, Apple is expected to use Qualcomm’s chips for the first 5G-enabled iPhones in 2020.