Apple is known for its desire to become self-sufficient by designing its own chips for its devices. Despite this, the company has announced that it will continue its partnership with Qualcomm by using their Snapdragon-brand 5G chips in its smartphones until 2026. This comes as a surprise, as rumors had suggested that Apple was looking to develop its own modems. Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon had previously stated that he expected Apple to start making its own modems in 2024. However, it appears that Apple still relies on Qualcomm’s technology.
Under the new agreement, Qualcomm will have a 20% share in the chipset supplies for smartphones launching in 2026. Apple currently accounts for a quarter of Qualcomm’s yearly revenue. While there is an option to extend the agreement for an additional two years, Apple’s recent efforts to have more control over its supply chain indicate its desire to eventually develop its own modems.
Leading Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had previously predicted that Apple would ditch Qualcomm in favor of in-house designed 5G baseband chips, particularly for the rumored iPhone SE 4. However, recent rumors suggest that an iPhone SE 4 with 5G connectivity may not be released anytime soon.
Replacing Intel-branded chips in Macs with its M-line processors has been a successful endeavor for Apple. However, incorporating 5G connectivity into its devices has proven to be more challenging. Apple needs to develop a modem that can connect to various satellite networks worldwide, a feat that Qualcomm has mastered over the years. Apple had previously taken Qualcomm to court over licensing fees for patents but was ultimately ordered to pay the fees.
In addition to smartphones, Apple may also start using its own modems in non-smartphone devices from 2026 onwards. As of now, it is unclear whether the upcoming Apple Watch Series 9 will have 5G capabilities.