For some time, rumor mills have claimed that Apple is working on its custom-built cellular modem for LTE and 5G connectivity in future iPhone and iPad models. A new report by Nikkie Asia reiterates that claim and states that the company’s long-term chip manufacturing partner, Taiwanese Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) will begin mass production of Apple’s 5G modem built on an advanced 4nm process.
The transition will end Apple’s dependence on Qualcomm for 5G chips used in the latest iPhone 12 and 13 series and iPad Pro, and Mini models. Qualcomm and Apple have a bitter and sweet relationship. In 2019, both companies settled a very long royalties dispute with a global patent license and a chipset supply agreement, on undisclosed terms. And recently, the U.S Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit precluded Apple from questioning Qualcomm’s patents after its settlement with the chip manufacturer.
2023 iPhone models with feature Apple’s custom-built 5G modem built on a 4nm process by TSMC
As per the pay-walled article, viewed by MacRumors, 2023 iPhone models will feature the new custom 5G modem which has been under development for years and was boosted by the tech giant’s acquisition of Intel’s modem business.
Apple plans to adopt TSMC’s 4-nanometer chip production technology to mass produce its first in-house 5G modem chip, four people familiar with the matter said, adding that the iPhone maker is developing its own radio frequency and millimeter wave components to complement the modem. Apple is also working on its own power management chip specifically for the modem, two people briefed on the matter said.
Currently, TSMC manufacturers A14 Bionic chip on a 5nm process for iPhone 12 series and select iPad models, A15 Bionic chip built on a 5nm+ process for iPhone 13 and select iPad models, and M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max chips for Macs. All processors deliver faster performance and incredible battery life. Reportedly, the manufacturer will also produce an A16 Bionic chip on a 4nm process for 2022 iPhone models.