Some of the iPhone 12 models in 2020 will likely support 5G, but they won’t use a 5G modem made by Apple itself. Initially Apple is set to use Qualcomm’s modems, but we know the company is working on its own 5G modems, and a source suggests they might be ready for 2022’s iPhones.
Specifically “a source with knowledge of the company’s plans” told Fast Company that Apple is aiming for 2022.
Why does that matter? Well, for one thing Apple is likely to try and combine the modem with its A- Bionic processor, putting them on a single chip, which could improve modem speeds and power efficiency.
- Lots of 5G phones are already available
- Read our full iPhone 11 review
- Check out our iPhone 11 Pro review
We don’t know for sure that this is the company’s goal, but it would make sense, especially as Apple was previously working with Intel to achieve this. That was before Intel got out of the 5G smartphone modem game and Apple bought most of that part of the company.
This probably isn’t the only reason Apple is working on its own modem. It likely also wants to bring as much development in-house as possible, especially since the current alternative is working with Qualcomm, a company with which Apple has had its share of legal tussles.
What's another year?
However, while an Apple-made 5G modem is coming, the company’s apparent 2022 time frame might be optimistic according to the source, who thinks 2023 might be more realistic given how much work is involved in developing and testing said modem.
If it does land in 2022 then the source reckons it might not be integrated into a single chip until the following year. So we might not see much benefit until 2023 either way. Still, it gives you something to look forward to if the iPhone 12’s 5G modem doesn’t get the job done.