Apple bought Intel’s smartphone baseband chip business for $1 billion in 2019. Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technology in 2020, told attendees at a conference that the development program for the first in-house baseband chip has been launched, and it is believed to be the key to achieving another strategic transformation.
Although there are reports that Apple’s first 5G baseband chip will debut in the iPhone series in 2023 as soon as possible, and will gradually reduce the purchase of Qualcomm’s 5G baseband. However, Apple’s wishful thinking has encountered setbacks, and the development of modems seems to be more difficult than that of self-developed Arm architecture chips. The news pointed out that Qualcomm will continue to supply 5G baseband to Apple for the new iPhone in the second half of 2023, and it will occupy 100% of the orders and be the exclusive supplier.
According to Wccftech, not only the iPhone 15 series next year, but the iPhone 16 series launched in 2024 will still use Qualcomm’s 5G baseband. It is expected that Apple will choose the Qualcomm Snapdragon X75, and the self-developed 5G baseband will not be ready until 2025.
It is understood that the Snapdragon X75, like the Snapdragon X70, is manufactured using TSMC’s 4nm process, which has high energy efficiency and reduces the space occupied. Unfortunately, the rumored high production cost of TSMC’s 4nm means that Apple will likely have to pass the cost on to customers in the end, or it will affect Apple’s profit margins.
Apple has been working on developing its own 5G baseband for years to reduce its reliance on Qualcomm, while better controlling the size and cost of components and enabling deeper software optimizations. Some analysts believe that even if Apple starts to use its self-developed 5G baseband in 2025, it will not completely terminate its business relationship with Qualcomm. Apple will take at least a few years to be truly self-sufficient in mass production, and it will still need to rely on Qualcomm’s cooperation until then.