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Who cares whether Apple or Qualcomm makes the iPhone’s 5G modem?

OPINION: iPhones will still have Qualcomm modems in 2026 amid reports Apple’s own solution is majorly delayed. But really, why does it even matter?

When we report on tech industry news at Trusted Reviews, we always attempt to do so through the lens of how it affects you, the tech users, rather than how it affects the companies themselves.

Whether Apple or Qualcomm makes the iPhone’s modems, it won’t affect the average user.

It’s not like Apple’s solution is suddently going to unlock faster and more reliable data speeds. We won’t see the same effects as, say, the switch from Intel to Apple Silicon Macs.

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There may be some enhanced system synergy and efficiency that comes with an Apple-made modem, but mainly this is about Apple wanting to take greater control over its supply line, becoming less susceptible to shortages, and less beholden to another company.

And, to be fair, that’s really boring.

This insder industry stuff only a small section of the readership really cares about. Not the average iPhone buyer who wants to hear about new features, cool innovations, product launches, and so on. If this modem switch was going to lead to cheaper/more expensive iPhones, for instance, then it’d worth telling you about.

Of course, the switch could negatively affect iPhone users, if Apple doesn’t get it right. However, if all goes smoothly hardly anyone will notice a difference. And that’s great.

However, the news Apple has extended its deal to supply 5G chips with Qualcomm until 2026 does prove one thing – the mighty Apple is having a hard time perfecting the art of the modem and maybe its time to give the Snapdragon-makers a bit of credit for helping the iPhone keep pace for all these years.

It’s been over four-years since Apple bought Intel’s mobile modem business with the goal of creating its own component for the iPhone. In the meantime, it signed an interim deal with on-off rival Qualcomm to ensure the iPhone can still access the top data speeds, reliably.

This iPhone 15 was potentially going to be the last iPhone to come with Qualcomm Snapdragon modem components, as the two companies were in the final year of the existing deal. Now, according to Qualcomm itself, it’ll be another three years at least before Apple launches a modem with its own 5G chip. By then we might be looking at a 6G Apple modem.

“Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. today announced that it has entered into an agreement with Apple Inc. to supply Snapdragon 5G Modem‑RF Systems for smartphone launches in 2024, 2025 and 2026,” the company announced today. “This agreement reinforces Qualcomm’s track record of sustained leadership across 5G technologies and products.”

Apple is mum on the deal, with its big iPhone 15 launch less than 24-hours away. It won’t want to be talking about Qualcomm modems, or where it’s own solution is at. However, next time you fire up your iPhone and enjoy a blazing fast YouTube stream over a 5G connection, perhaps remember the old adage that “it takes a village.”

Whether it’s the LG screen, the Sony cameras, the ARM-based A-Series processors made by TSMC, or the Qualcomm modems, the iPhone wouldn’t be the iPhone without some huge cross-industry co-operation with some of Apple’s biggest rivals. So, yeah, I wouldn’t worry about who makes the iPhone’s modem.

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