5G reveals inevitable dependence on Qualcomm for future iPhones

2023-09-12 06:15:59

The world of 5G is unforgiving, and Apple has had bitter experience. Despite its overflowing ambition and its billions invested, the Apple brand is coming up against a wall called Qualcomm.

Source : Unsplash

Against Apple, Qualcomm has once again scored points. Recently announcing an extension of its partnership with Apple to provide 5G modem chips until 2026, the San Diego firm has proven its supremacy in this area. For fans of the Apple brand, it is a guarantee of performance. For Apple, it’s a confession: despite all its efforts, it has not succeeded in getting rid of Qualcomm’s influence.

However, Apple’s ambition was no less. By designing its own ARM SoCs, the Apple Ax chips, the company led by Tim Cook dreamed of completely emancipating itself from Qualcomm. And the rumor was on its side, suggesting that the iPhone 15 would be the ultimate model to feature a modem from the rival brand.

The acquisition of Intel’s modem branch: a lost hope

The purchase of Intel’s 5G modem division for $1 billion in 2019 was a harbinger of a revolution. Apple has made no secret of its desire for innovation and autonomy in cellular technology. In 2020, the promise was clear: Apple would have its own modem. But as is often the case in the world of tech, between ambitions and realities, the distance can be great.

Several rumors are circulating around this unexpected delay. Producing a 5G modem as efficient as Qualcomm’s is a colossal challenge. Covering as many bands, ensuring optimal efficiency and providing a seamless user experience are non-negotiable criteria. If Apple cannot ensure these parameters, there is a great risk of disappointing its loyal customers. And, as we know, in the smartphone sector, consumer loyalty is an invaluable treasure.

A tumultuous past with Qualcomm

The relationship between Apple and Qualcomm resembles a true Hollywood saga. There is no shortage of twists and turns. In 2017, for example, the iPhone 7, 8 and “iPhone X” featured either 4G chips from Intel or Qualcomm. This situation created a dilemma for Apple, which had, it seems, chosen to restrict Qualcomm modems to standardize performance. A decision that said a lot about the balance of power.

For years, Apple and Qualcomm have been engaged in a merciless battle, oscillating between lawsuits and partnerships. If Apple’s dream was to free itself from this dependence, for now, Qualcomm remains an essential ally.

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