Apple in Talks With New Suppliers for Its First-Ever Custom 5G Modem in 2023 iPhones

BY Anu Joy

Published 23 Feb 2022


Apple is in preliminary talks with new vendors for backend orders of its first custom 5G modem chips for iPhones. The new suppliers include Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE) and Siliconware Precision Industries (SPIL), according to a DigiTimes report.

ASE deals with low-volume production of chips that are typically used for development and testing work before going into mass-production. It is reported that the new suppliers will deal with packaging some of Apple’s first self-designed 5G modem chips.

The Cupertino-based company is said to be working on manufacturing 5G modem chips and RF transceiver ICs in-house for 2023 iPhones, thereby reducing its dependence on Qualcomm.

Apple continues to advance its in-house chip design journey into radio frequency (RF) solutions including 5G modem chips and RF transceiver ICs, and plans to apply them to iPhones starting 2023 while sharply reducing supply of such chips from Qualcomm.

Apple is estimated to ship at least 200 million new iPhones in 2023, and will surely rely on multiple partners to handle backend processing of its in-house 5G modem chips and RF transceiver ICs, based on its regular supply chain management policy for its devices.

Last year, Taiwan’s leading chip manufacturer TSMC was said to have secured the entire order of 5G chips from Apple, leaving rival foundry Samsung in the dust. The iPhone maker is currently trialing production on the 5nm node, which is said to move to the 4nm process for mass production. With ASE and SPIL coming into the picture, it appears that Apple wants to diversify its supply chain for 5G modems.

By developing its own modem, Apple is looking to cut down on its reliance on Qualcomm, giving it the freedom to optimize the modem for iPhones. Back in 2019, the company agreed to an expensive settlement with the San Diego-based chip maker which allowed Apple to use Qualcomm’s 5G modem in iPhones as a part of a six-year licensing agreement. The settlement also resulted in Intel exiting the 5G modem business, with the team ultimately being acquired by Apple.

 [Via DigiTimes]