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Is Apple’s Partnership With Qualcomm in Jeopardy?


According to reports, Apple’s work on its own 5G modem is nearing completion, so what is next for the company’s truce with Qualcomm? Apple and Qualcomm have never had the best of relations, and the two companies were embroiled in a legal battle before agreeing to a settlement that allowed Qualcomm’s 5G radios to be installed in iPhones. That cooperation appears to be on the rocks right now. So why are things changing?

What Is Causing These Speculations? 

This entire argument was sparked by three reports. First, according to a Digitimes story, Apple is in talks with potential suppliers ASE Technology and Siliconware Precision Industries for a few of the work needed to manufacture its own 5G modems instead of utilizing Qualcomm’s. 

Second, Apple has requested that TSMC create self-developed modems for the 2023 (or possibly this year’s) iPhone, which will be manufactured on a 5nm or 4nm process (or 6nm, according to other reports). 

And finally, In a long-running dispute with Qualcomm, Apple has requested the US government to intervene. The company sought for an appeal ruling to be reconsidered because it may preclude Apple from contesting patents in a fresh case whenever the contract between the two corporations ends.

When you add these three sets of assertions together, you have a corporation that is pushing forward with forming manufacturing relationships to produce its own modems and is preparing for any eventual dispute with Qualcomm.

The History of Apple and Qualcomm’s Relationship

Apple and Qualcomm had a tumultuous relationship until they addressed their differences in 2019 with a multibillion-dollar deal—the relationship was never as easy as logging into 22 Bet and getting on with the rest of your day. Apple had wanted to collaborate with Intel on 5G modem development, but due to a lack of progress, the corporation was forced to reach this agreement in order to include 5G in iPhones.

In a separate billion-dollar deal, Apple bought Intel’s modem development capabilities. They are now part of Apple’s own silicon development teams, where they are working on the company’s own proprietary 5G modem. All these indicate that work is nearing completion, implying that the Apple/Qualcomm partnership is also coming to an end.

Why This Is Crucial

The tactical significance of the mobile broadband standard is growing as 5G deployment accelerates and countries begin to adopt rapid 5G (typically mmWave). Businesses in every industry will seek competitive advantage through goods and services that enable them to bypass this connectedness. 

The world expects 5G to appear in tablets and notebooks, and researchers project that by 2026, shipments of mmWave-enabled phones would account for 43% of the smartphone industry. We also know that Apple has been experimenting with mmWave in its labs since at least 2017, and is now working on 6G.

The integration of 5G mmWave in a wider number of smartphone models, powered by Samsung’s flagship smartphones and Apple’s iPhones, as well as expanding ecosystem momentum, will enhance 5G mmWave smartphone sales. After a rocky start that was mostly limited to the US market, the momentum behind mobile mmWave is building, with deployments planned in numerous regions and nations spanning North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific, as well as backing from a growing number of chipset suppliers.