Apple could pull the plug on future in-house iPhone upgrade as 5G modem development "winding down"

5G on iPhone
(Image credit: Apple)

More than four years after Apple acquired Intel's smartphone modem business at the cost of $1 billion, and after months of setbacks to work on its in-house modem for iPhone, two new leaks claim that Apple might potentially be scrapping the plan altogether. 

X's Tech_Reve, an insider who has previously accurately leaked information pertaining to Samsung's future plans, seems to have heard from a source that "Apple is reportedly in the process of winding down its investment in 5G modem development departments and personnel, which it has been developing in-house in recent years." The same information has also been reported by a reputable source on Naver, Yeux1122, who wrote today that "Apple has entered the phase of reorganizing its continued investment in its own 5G modem development department and personnel," and said that "in other words, attempts to install it in the 4th generation iPhone SE or to develop its own modem appear to have failed and are expected to be completely eliminated."

Now, it's possible that "winding down" in this instance could indicate that Apple is simply taking its foot off the gas in developing a 5G modem for the iPhone, but a recent spate of setbacks to the project and this report of complete elimination could indicate that Apple has bitten off more than it can chew and might pull the plug altogether. 

The end of in-house 5G?

Following the aforementioned acquisition, it was reported on various occasions that Apple would adopt its own 5G modems in 2023. That was all the way back in 2021. While we'd hoped to see Apple's own 5G modem in its new best iPhone, the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro, it became evident early this year that Apple was not going to make the deadline. Instead,  Apple continues to use Qualcomm's 5G modems and has signed a deal to that effect that runs through 2026. While we thought Apple's own modems were still years away, it now seems they might never see the light of day at all. 

As noted by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman at the time, "the move suggests that building a modem component has been more challenging than expected." 

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Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9

  • naddy69
    Does anyone really care about this? Does it matter who makes various parts of products?
  • Wotchered
    naddy69 said:
    Does anyone really care about this? Does it matter who makes various parts of products?

    It is always good to develop your own parts if you can. It saves being held to ransom over any shortage of components.