Apple staffs up to make its own wireless chips


An Apple 5G modem might look like this
Apple is hiring experts to design 5G, Wi-FI and Bluetooth chips for its computers.
Artists concept: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple is reportedly hiring at a new office in Irvine, California, where the company will make 5G modems and other wireless chips for future devices.

It’s the latest move by Apple to expand the number of critical components for its products that it produces in-house.

Apple definitely prepping its own wireless chips

In 2019, shortly after Apple lost a protracted court fight with wireless chipmaker Qualcomm, Apple spent a cool $1 billion to acquire Intel’s smartphone modem business. It was clear then that Cupertino is serious about making its own wireless chips.

And on Thursday came word from Bloomberg that Apple is hiring engineers with expertise in chip design for an Irvine office. “Engineers will work on wireless radios, radio-frequency integrated circuits and a wireless system-on-a-chip, or SoC. They’ll also develop semiconductors for connecting to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi,” according to Bloomberg. Apple currently outsources these components from Qualcomm, Broadcom and Skyworks Solutions.

iPhone with Apple modem in 2023?

Chip design isn’t accomplished in a day. Or even a year. An Apple VP recently said the feature sets for each of its CPUs are fixed three years before release. So an in-house 5G modem isn’t expected anytime soon.

But the wait might not be too long, either. A recent unconfirmed report indicated that TSMC will start manufacturing custom 5G modem chips for iPhone in 2023. If true, it means the iPhone-maker is expanding its long partnership with the Taiwanese company, which already made the CPUs for iPhone, iPad and Mac.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.