As Apple continues its transition to its own silicon, we’re expecting an Apple modem chip to replace Qualcomm ones in future iPhones – and it appears that might be happening with the iPhone 16.

Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon indicated that Apple hasn’t discussed 2024 modem orders with the company, suggesting that this is likely the year the Cupertino company makes the switch …

Background

Apple has for years used Qualcomm modem chips – the radio chips which provide mobile data connectivity.

The relationship between Apple and Qualcomm has, however, been a fraught one. In particular, the iPhone maker was upset that Qualcomm was “double-dipping” by selling the company a chip, and then demanding a patent royalty fee for use of the tech within that same chip.

Things got messy. Qualcomm accused Apple of blackmail. The CEOs of the two companies had “hostile” meetings. Qualcomm refused to sell chips to Apple for the iPhone XS and XR. Both companies set aside earlier talk of settlement and pledged to fight it all the way. A multibillion-dollar trial began.

Apple’s plan was to temporarily switch from Qualcomm  Predicts modem chips to Intel ones while it worked on its own radio chip design. Unfortunately, that plan fell apart when Intel announced that it was exiting the 5G smartphone modem business. Since it would be a few years before Apple’s own chip design was ready, that left the company with no choice but to make up with Qualcomm. It didn’t take long to reach an amicable settlement.

Apple bought Intel’s modem division to speed up the development of an in-house 5G modem chip. Two reports contradicted the first, suggesting that 2023, with the iPhone 15, would not be the year, citing a combination of technical and legal hurdles.

Qualcomm Expects Apple Modem in 2024

The CEO of Qualcomm was interviewed by CNBC about his thoughts on Mobile World Congress.

According to the CEO of Qualcomm, which currently manufactures 5G modem chips for Apple, the tech giant is transitioning to making its own chips in-house for its 2024 iPhones.

For 2024, “we’re making no plans,” Cristiano Amon told CNBC at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, “my planning assumption is we’re not providing [Apple] a modem in ’24,” but ultimately, that decision rests with Apple.

It’s reasonable to assume that Apple’s CEO is aware of the company’s intention to buy millions of Qualcomm modem chips in 2024, given the lead time for making such a large order.

His comment instead makes it clear that no such communication has taken place, which does strongly suggest that Apple is planning to switch to its own modem chip next year, at least for the time being.

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