Apple may be moving closer to implementing its long-rumored ambitions to employ its own wireless chipsets in iPhones. Bloomberg sources indicate that in addition to preparing its first cellular modem, which is now expected to launch in late 2024 or early 2025, Apple is also developing a chip that combines Bluetooth and WiFi functions to take the place of the Broadcom chip currently in use. As predicted by the tipsters, that component would be delivered in 2025.
A follow-up that combines Bluetooth, cellular, and WiFi functions into a single design is also reportedly under development by the company. Such a change might streamline manufacturing and free up room in the iPhone's compact chassis.
Qualcomm and Apple have previously opted not to comment. Broadcom has been contacted for comment. In November, Qualcomm stated that it would provide the vast majority of iPhone cellular modems for models coming out in 2023, but that it only anticipated a "limited contribution" from Apple hardware for models coming out in its fiscal 2025. Meanwhile, Broadcom CEO Hock Tan stated in December that he thought Apple will continue to employ the products his company produces.
It was not specifically stated why Apple made the switch, but it is well known that it did so in order to gain more control over its products and lessen its reliance on suppliers with whom it might not always be on cordial terms. The tech giant famously engaged in a contentious royalties spat with Qualcomm that resulted in an expensive settlement, and Broadcom is known to make tough concessions. Although Apple-made components wouldn't totally solve these issues, they may lessen the possibility of third companies essentially holding Apple hostage.
Even if the report is true, there is still no assurance that everything would go as expected. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo alleges that Apple cancelled a fourth-generation iPhone SE that would have used the company's first internally-designed modem in 2024. Earlier reports stated that Apple could transition to its own cellular processors as soon as 2023. If there are issues with the development, Apple might still need to rely on Qualcomm and Broadcom for some time.