Apple chipmaker will start building iPhone’s custom 5G modems in 2023

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Apple 5G modem chip
Qualcomm is slowly but surely getting the boot.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Apple’s primary chip production partner, will start manufacturing custom 5G modem chips for iPhone in 2023, according to a new report, which cites four different sources familiar with the plan.

TSMC reportedly will build the chips using a 4-nanometer manufacturing process. The proprietary modems would allow Apple to reduce its reliability on rival chipmaker Qualcomm.

Apple’s own 5G modems to enter production in 2023

Qualcomm currently produces the cellular chips found inside iPhones and iPads. But Apple has been working to replace those with its own modems, designed entirely in-house, for several years now.

Apple acquired Intel’s mobile modem business for $1 billion in 2019 to kick-start that mission, and we’ve been waiting for the company’s own 5G modems to appear ever since. Nikkei Asia reports that they will finally enter production in 2023.

“Apple plans to adopt TSMC’s 4-nanometer chip production technology to mass produce its first in-house 5G modem chip, four people familiar with the matter said,” reads the report published Tuesday.

“The iPhone maker is developing its own radio frequency and millimeter wave components to complement the modem. Apple is also working on its own power management chip specifically for the modem,” two of the people said.

Qualcomm prepares to lose Apple orders

The report comes less than a week after sources told Digitimes that Apple will start shipping its first custom modem chips in 2023. It also follows Qualcomm’s prediction that it will lose Apple orders in the same year.

During its most recent earnings call, Qualcomm warned investors that it expects to have just a 20% share of Apple’s modem business by 2023. However, it believes it will continue to supply some units for certain markets.