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Confusion reigns about the future of Apple's 5G modem project

Apple has been trying to make its own 5G modem for the iPhone

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A new leak appears to claim that Apple is ditching its plans to produce its own 5G iPhone modem, but the claim may just mean that the first effort is complete.

Apple's iPhone currently uses 5G modems made by Qualcomm, and it is expected to continue doing so until 2026. It has, though, been working on producing its own 5G modem for some years, and it has previously been claimed that it has been having difficulties with the project.

Now a new report relayed by regular leaker yeux1122, says (in translation) that Apple is "clearing up" its development.

"It is said that Apple has entered the stage of clearing up its ongoing investment in its 5G modem development department and workforce, which it has been developing in-house in recent years," says the report. "In other words, it is expected that it will be installed in the 4th generation of the iPhone SE or later attempts to develop its own modem will be unsuccessful and will be fully cleaned up."

That post by yeuz1122 has been tweeted by leaker Tech_Reve on Twitter/X, who claims "multiple sources" are saying the same thing.

"This suggests that attempts to incorporate Apple's in-house modem in the upcoming iPhone SE 4th generation or any subsequent efforts for in-house modem integration have seemingly failed," writes Tech_Reve, "and a complete abandonment is anticipated."

It's possible that it is because of machine translation that reports are unclear. But as described by yeux1122, the claim is that either the Apple 5G modem is ready for the next iPhone SE, or it has been abandoned completely.

Tech_Reve does not specify what other sources are saying this, but recently his or her information has appeared dubious. That includes a claim that Apple expects to ship 10 million of the Vision Pro by 2026, and that iMac will get an OLED screen in 2028.

Apple has previously abandoned projects — seemingly, for instance, including Steve Jobs's idea for an actual television set — but it seems unlikely for the 5G modem. There are technical and even bureaucratic hurdles for any firm designing a 5G modem, but Apple has been designing processors for decades.

More, in 2019 Apple spent $1 billion on buying Intel's entire modem business. That got Apple all of Intel's research, technology, and over 2,000 staff.