Apple has made a significant decision to extend its agreement with Qualcomm, ensuring the use of Qualcomm’s 5G modems in its iPhones until at least 2027. This extension, a year beyond the previously agreed-upon 2026, was confirmed during Qualcomm’s first earnings call of 2024. Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon expressed his satisfaction with the ongoing partnership with Apple, reflecting a mutually beneficial relationship.
The extension comes amid challenges faced by Apple in developing its own 5G modems. Despite ambitious plans and substantial investment, including the $1 billion acquisition of Intel’s modem division in 2019, Apple’s progress has been slower than anticipated. This acquisition brought Apple a significant cache of patents and a wealth of human resources, but the hurdles in modem development have persisted. Reports from Bloomberg last year highlighted the struggles faced by Apple’s engineers and executives, with prototype modems not meeting performance and efficiency standards set by Qualcomm’s products.
The aim was originally to launch devices equipped with Apple’s in-house 5G modems this year, but the renewed agreements with Qualcomm indicate that Apple’s own 5G modem is not yet ready for market. It is also notable that Qualcomm is the supplier for the satellite communication module in the iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 models, further deepening the ties between the two tech giants.
Apple has not publicly commented on this latest extension of its agreement with Qualcomm.
However, the decision to continue relying on Qualcomm’s expertise in 5G technology suggests a pragmatic approach by Apple, prioritizing product quality and reliability over the rapid introduction of in-house modem technology.