Apple has extended its modem chip licensing agreement with Qualcomm through March 2027, Qualcomm said today during its first earnings call of 2024. Apple’s existing agreement has now been extended for two years, so we can expect to see Qualcomm modems in the next several iPhone generations.
Apple has been working on developing its own 5G modem chip in-house for the last several years. The technology would keep it from having to rely on Qualcomm for 5G chips, but Apple’s progress has seen several delays.
In November 2023, Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman said that Apple’s work on a modem chip had been postponed until late 2025 or 2026, and it is possible it could see further delays. Apple was initially aiming to have an Apple-designed modem chip ready to go by 2024, but it missed that target. The company then wanted to introduce the modem chip in an iPhone SE that would launch in spring 2025, but it will not be able to make that goal either.
In an also not surprising development, on the @Qualcomm call, it was mentioned:
“Apple exercised its unilateral option to extend its global patent license agreement for an additional two years, taking the existing agreement through to March 2027”
— Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin) January 31, 2024
Gurman said at the time that Apple was “years away” from creating a chip that is able to perform as well or better than chips from Qualcomm.
Apple has reportedly run into issues with the Intel code that it has been using from its acquisition of Intel’s modem chip business. Apple has had to rewrite code, and adding new features has caused existing features to break. Apple also has to avoid infringing on Qualcomm’s patents during its modem development.
The upcoming iPhone 16 Pro models set to be released in 2024 are rumored to be using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X75 modem with improved carrier aggregation, and a more power efficient transceiver.
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