Apple wants to ditch Qualcomm’s 5G antenna on 2020 iPhones

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Qualcomm headquarters
Sounds like Qualcomm and Apple still have a love-hate relationship.
Photo: Qualcomm

Qualcomm’s 5G antenna design isn’t up to par with Apple’s design standards, reveals a new report that claims Apple is building its own antenna for this year’s 5G iPhones.

Fast Company claims Apple has decided to do the design work itself on the 5G antenna but it will still use Qualcomm’s 5G modem chip. If true, Apple would be adding an extra level of difficulty for churning out a reliable 5G iPhone during one of its most anticipated upgrade cycles in years.

Apple and Qualcomm struck a deal a deal in 2019 that allowed Apple to use Qualcomm’s 5G chips an intellectual property for the next few years. The relationship may not last long though as Apple quickly scooped up Intel’s 5G modem business and started developing 5G chips in-house.

Apple’s 5G antenna problems

Qualcomm’s QTM 525 millimeter-wave antenna module supposedly doesn’t fit into the case design Apple wants to use on the 2020 iPhones. It’s supposed to support devices that are 8mm thin but Apple is reportedly unsatisfied. The iPhone 11 Pro is 8.1 mm thick, however, Apple is expected to use a new body design this year.

FastCo says the design plans for the antenna are still fluid, which would be pretty surprising if true. Apple usually has parts and suppliers for new iPhones lined up nearly a year before production begins. Leaving this much room for error with the 2020 iPhone unveiling just seven months away would be incredibly risky on Apple’s part. The company is already dealing with possible supply issues related to the coronavirus in China.

Apple supposedly has a backup plan that uses both Qualcomm’s modem and antenna just in case. If the company goes with that option the 2020 iPhone will be a bit thicker than planned. As long as that means Apple fills some of that extra space with more battery power and a working two-way charging option I’d be all for it.