Apple gives up on in-house Wi-Fi chips


home Wi-Fi
Apple will have to keep outsourcing Wi-Fi chips.
Photo: Alan Levine/Flickr

Apple’s drive to make all its own processors hit a bump in the road. It’s reportedly stopped development on chips to add Wi-Fi to its devices, and will instead keep outsourcing these.

The reason is simple: Apple doesn’t have enough talented engineers to design all the chips it wants. It’s putting most of its available resources into Mac and iPhone processors.

Apple continues outsourcing Wi-Fi chips

A few years ago, Apple outsourced most of its chips. Mac CPUs came from Intel, cellular modems came from Qualcomm and other wireless chips were made by Broadcom.

In 2020, Cupertino put its own M-series processors in Mac, dumping Intel. But the plan to do the same to Qualcomm and Broadcom isn’t going nearly so well.

“Apple has halted developing its own Wi-Fi chips,” reports Ming-Chi Kuo from TF International Securities in a research note published Thursday.

“Apple has devoted most of its IC [integrated circuit] design resources to the development of processors,” Kuo continues. “Insufficient development resources have delayed the mass production of Apple’s own 5G baseband chip, not to mention the Wi-Fi chip with lower strategic value.”

The iPhone maker wasn’t even trying to go head-to-head with Broadcom’s offering. Apple was supposedly working on a Wi-Fi-only chip — a less-capable one that Broadcom’s Wi-Fi+Bluetooth chip.

Work on an in-house 5G modem is still reportedly ongoing, a project Apple has poured over a billion dollars into. It has yet to bear fruit, though: the 2023 iPhone 15 will once again use a modem made by Qualcomm.


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