Recently, Qualcomm CEO and President Cristiano Amon (Cristiano Amon) revealed in an interview with reporters at the Mobile World Congress that Apple is expected to produce self-developed 5G baseband chips in 2024. produce their own modems for 2019, but if they need us (modems), they know where to find us.”
If Qualcomm’s CEO is right, then the iPhone 15 series in September this year will be the last model equipped with Qualcomm’s 5G chip.
As we all know, Apple has been trying to replace chips from third-party suppliers through self-developed chips, but the progress has been very slow. According to An Meng, Apple should have finally made a breakthrough and successfully developed its own 5G Modem (modem).
Notably, Qualcomm had previously told its investors at one point that it would supply only 20% of the modems for Apple’s 2023 iPhone, before changing that to “the vast majority.” Now Qualcomm has changed its story, and the change appears to be largely due to Apple’s failure to launch its own 5G modem on schedule.
Where has Apple’s self-developed 5G baseband chip come?
Apple has been formulating a plan for self-developed baseband chips several years ago, the purpose is to maintain its own independence and reduce its dependence on companies such as Qualcomm or Broadcom. In order to develop its own baseband chip, even when the patent litigation dispute with Qualcomm was in full swing, it “smiled away all grievances and enmity”.
In late 2019, Apple officially announced that it had completed the acquisition of Intel’s baseband business at a cost of US$1 billion, in order to accelerate the development of self-developed basebands. Through the acquisition of Intel’s relatively mature baseband R&D department, Apple not only successfully absorbed about 2,200 R&D personnel from Intel’s baseband department, but also obtained a number of patents, equipment and leases, covering everything from cellular standard protocols to modem architecture and modem operation. A mature XMM 8160 baseband, which can be regarded as a starting point for Apple’s self-developed baseband.
The author has analyzed that the development of self-developed 5G chips has many benefits for Apple. First, the self-developed 5G chip improves product competitiveness. In the previous Apple products, the power of Apple’s A-series processors is obvious to all. Through the high-performance A-series processors combined with the special optimization of iOS, the performance of the iPhone is better than that of the iPhone. Other mobile phone manufacturers are much stronger, and their self-developed A-series processors have also become an important aspect of the iPhone’s differentiated competition from other mobile phones. In terms of signal processing, some people say that because Intel has not used baseband chips as its main development business, the signal is much worse than Qualcomm’s baseband chip. This has also led to one of the reasons why Apple has been criticized for poor signal. At the moment when 5G technology is shining brightly, 5G technology has become a battleground for major mobile phone manufacturers. If Apple can use its self-developed 5G baseband chip and match it with an operating system tailored for the product, it is also possible to achieve the same effect as the self-developed A-series processor back then, making the communication quality and experience of the next-generation iPhone even better. Improve the product competitiveness of iPhone.
The second is to compress iPhone production costs. Apple insists on self-developed 5G chips, which may pave the way for future cost control of Apple products. At present, the advanced Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 and Kirin 990 chips, etc., have integrated 5G baseband chips, which has greatly improved the performance of the whole machine and the power consumption optimization of the chipset. If Apple can realize self-developed 5G baseband chips and carry out integrated processing, it will undoubtedly reduce its dependence on Qualcomm’s 5G chips, reduce external demand for components and product manufacturing costs.
In addition, Qualcomm’s baseband technology is the world’s leading. In this case, it is quite difficult for Apple to use Qualcomm’s 5G baseband chips at a more reasonable price without being controlled by Qualcomm. Therefore, the self-developed 5G baseband chip can also help Apple increase its bargaining chips in future negotiations with Qualcomm, and it can also become its own second supplier.
But obviously, the self-developed baseband chip is much more complicated, and the loss of the integration team, the lack of experience and technology, and the centralization of communication patent technology have made it difficult for Apple to achieve breakthroughs for a long time. But now that Qualcomm has personally come out to speak out, I believe this news is not groundless, and we will see the outcome next year.