Apple may use its own modems in 2023 iPhones, report claims

Apple's 5G chips could show up in the next couple of years.

Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Expertise 5G | Mobile networks | Wireless carriers | Phones | Tablets | Streaming devices | Streaming platforms | Mobile | Console gaming
Eli Blumenthal
2 min read

Future iPhones may use Apple's own wireless modem. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple, like most major companies selling phones in the US, relies on Qualcomm for the wireless modems it uses in its latest iPhones. According to a new investor note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, however, that may change as soon as 2023. 

In the note, which was seen by MacRumors, Kuo says that Apple may switch to using its own wireless chips with the launch of the 2023 iPhones. Kuo says that the switch from Qualcomm to in-house baseband chips would take place in two years "at the earliest" with MacRumors noting that Apple is expected to continue using Qualcomm's wireless chips in the interim for new devices like the rumored iPhone 13. 

Apple has long been rumored to be developing its own modem division as it seeks to control more of the parts that make up its devices. In July 2019 the company paid $1 billion to acquire Intel's modem business after the chipmaker announced plans to leave the modem market. Earlier that year Apple also settled a licensing dispute with Qualcomm, giving it the ability to use Qualcomm's modems in its wireless products. 

According to a court document from the Apple and Qualcomm settlement (also spotted by MacRumors), 2021 5G Apple products are expected to use Qualcomm's updated X60 chips while the 2022 products are said to use the X65 chipset. The document claims that 2023 products will use either the X65 modem or the unannounced X70, but given the new report from Kuo on Monday it is possible those plans may change. 

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.