Apple is going to include its own 5G modem technology in the new iPhones, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The decision is a change from the company's long-time unofficial practice of relying on third parties for cellular components.
Apple has been working on its own 5G modem for years.
Apple’s first 5G modem, called 2020, was based on Intel’s MXM 7560 chip. The second generation of this modem will likely be called the 2070 and is expected to support both CDMA and TD-LTE wireless standards. But it seems like Apple will also be using its modems in future iPhones.
5G is the next generation of cellular connectivity. It promises to be up to 10 times faster than 4G LTE, with lower latency and better coverage.
According to Bloomberg, Apple has been working on a 5G modem since at least 2017, when it acquired a startup called P.A. Semi. P.A. Semi was one of the leading developers of ARM-based processors for mobile devices, and its acquisition provided Apple with engineers who could help develop a fifth-generation modem (5G) for future iPhones.
Additionally, Apple may be able to reduce costs by releasing 5G phones with only one model instead of two: one with support for CDMA networks (like Verizon) and another one with support for TD-LTE networks (like AT&T).
What are 5G Modems?
5G networks will allow much faster data connections over long distances than previous generations of cellular technology because they use high-frequency radio waves that can be sent through airwaves and even through walls. This means you'll be able to download movies or send large files in seconds rather than minutes over your phone's connection — if your carrier supports 5G networks in your area right now or shortly.
What Does This Mean for Apple?
The move could help Apple lower the price of its devices. A modem is a key component that allows phones to connect to wireless carriers' networks, and the fact that Apple will be building it means it'll have more control over the pricing and supply chain.
Qualcomm has been an increasingly contentious supplier for Apple. The company has recently accused Qualcomm of abusing its dominant position in the mobile chip market by charging exorbitant royalties on certain components it sells to manufacturers like Apple. By developing its modems, Apple can avoid paying those extra fees.
What Does This Mean for the Consumer?
Apple's decision may seem insignificant at first glance, unless you're an investor in Intel or Qualcomm. But there are plenty of reasons why this could impact consumers:
If you're an iPhone user, you'll likely benefit from better performance and battery life thanks to improved chipsets and software optimizations by Apple itself rather than third-party manufacturers like Intel or Qualcomm.
The advantages of having an Apple modem
The advantages of having an Apple modem are numerous:
The advantage of having an Apple modem is that it can be optimized for the iPhone. The iPhone will come out with faster speeds than other smartphones with modems from Intel or Qualcomm. This means that if you're in a good coverage area, you'll get faster data speeds than other smartphones.
There are also advantages in terms of battery life and phone performance, as Apple can optimize its hardware for the iPhone's needs.
The disadvantages of having an Apple modem
Apple's modems are not open source, so third-party developers can't make apps for them. This means that the iPhone won't be able to run existing open-source mesh networking software such as OpenWrt or DD-WRT, which has been popular with hobbyists and developers who want greater control over their devices.
The Apple modem may also be less capable than Qualcomm's in terms of antennas, which could impact its ability to connect to a wide variety of carriers around the world.
Indeed, these technology updates serve to further the goals of greater connectivity and higher speeds. Of course, with Apple's own in-house 5G modems included in its handsets, it is also easier for the company to produce these higher-quality devices. Ultimately, we are only looking at an improved user experience as a result of this recent revelation.