Why Apple can’t stop relying on Qualcomm for iPhones – Times of India

Why Apple can’t stop relying on Qualcomm for iPhones - Times of India


Apple extended its deal with Qualcomm for modems amid the rumours of building its own for years. For the coming three years, iPhones would use Qualcomm’s 5G modems, while Apple planned to use an in-house modem in iPhones starting this year, but it faced setbacks attempting to do so, forcing it to extend the agreement.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple underestimated the complexity and technical challenges involved in the task, facing complications in the development.
Apple had two primary motivations behind developing its own modems. Firstly, creating its own modem to improve device performance and increase profit margins. Secondly, the company wanted to cut ties with Qualcomm after suing them in 2017 over excessive patent fees.
“They hate Qualcomm’s living guts,” Edward Snyder, a wireless industry expert and managing director of Charter Equity Research, told WSJ.
After settling its dispute with Qualcomm in 2019, Apple acquired Intel‘s smartphone modem business, along with a few thousand engineers to help advance its development efforts.
If succeeded, Apple would have at least saved $7.2 billion, the amount it paid Qualcomm for modems last year.
The project has been hampered by unrealistic objectives and deadlines, resulting in prototype chips, codenamed Sinope, were notably slower than Qualcomm’s best modem chip, lagging by approximately three years. Tests conducted internally last year revealed that the chip was too slow and prone to overheating. Additionally, its circuit board was too large, occupying almost half of an iPhone’s space, making it unusable.
The lack of global leadership to guide the separate development groups working in the US and internationally, is why the project has been met with multiple delays, tell former engineers familiar with the project. The teams were siloed without a global leader, slowed down by technical challenges, communication issues, and disagreements among managers. A former Apple wireless director said it was unrealistic to expect Apple to build the best modem chip, despite their reputation for building the best silicon chips.
Apple had initially planned to use its modem chips in its 2023 models but later cancelled those plans and postponed the rollout to 2024. However, with no final product in sight, Apple eventually negotiated with Qualcomm to continue supplying the modem chips. Apple’s licensing agreement with Qualcomm is set to expire in April 2025, but it can be extended for another two years if necessary. According to individuals involved in the project, Apple has both the funds and the motivation to keep pursuing its modem chip.


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