Apple had been negotiating with Samsung on 5G baseband cooperation

Over the past several years, Apple has been ardently striving to develop its own 5G modem. Despite allocating a billion dollars in 2019 to acquire Intel’s smartphone chip venture in a bid to expedite the project, the endeavor seems to have been of limited advantage. Owing to protracted delays in its indigenous 5G baseband development, Apple found itself compelled to extend its collaboration with Qualcomm, inking a three-year accord whereby the latter would continue provisioning baseband chips for iPhones until 2026.

As reported by Hankyung, prior to solidifying its ongoing partnership with Qualcomm, Apple had also explored a potential alliance with Samsung, deliberating over a 5G baseband collaboration.

It is understood that in 2019, amid an impasse in negotiations with Qualcomm, Apple turned its gaze to Samsung in pursuit of alternative prospects. However, their discourse did not delve deep. Rumors suggest that Samsung’s production constraints, particularly its inability to manufacture an adequate volume of 5G modems, rendered the dialogue inconclusive, thwarting the establishment of a collaborative rapport. This impelled Apple to revert to Qualcomm, albeit at a premium cost. Speculations hint that this might also be attributed to Samsung’s semiconductor process lagging behind that of TSMC.

In actuality, Samsung’s 5G basebands are somewhat lagging compared to Qualcomm’s offerings, demonstrating diminished efficiency, which consequently compromises battery longevity. Sources indicate that Apple initially considered integrating Samsung’s 5G basebands into some of its older iPhone models. Even if a consensus had been reached, Apple would have been confronted with sundry challenges; for instance, these modems must adhere to rigorous connectivity regulations worldwide, with each region presenting its unique set of stipulations and standards. Such myriad variables could exacerbate optimization difficulties, potentially undermining the modem’s performance further.

Prior accounts have conveyed that prototypes of Apple’s proprietary 5G modem exhibited mediocre performance, characterized by diminished speed, predisposition to overheating, and substantial internal space occupancy. Presently, Apple’s executive cadre and engineers have discerned that the intricacies involved in 5G modem research and development seemingly eclipse even those encountered during the in-house development of their Arm architecture chips, given the plethora of complex issues entwined.