As expected, the iPhone 11 line-up launched this year without 5G capabilities. Rumor has it that the first 5G iPhone will see the light of day next year, and, according to a recent report, Apple has an aggressive timeline as far as the next-generation network standard is concerned.
Thanks to the supplier agreement Qualcomm and Apple have signed once they settled their dispute, the 2020 iPhone will likely feature Qualcomm-made 5G modems. That will also likely be the case in 2021, but by 2022, Apple is planning on completely switching to its own, in-house 5G solution.
That will be possible due to Apple’s acquisition of the majority of Intel’s smartphone modem business. Still, the timeline is very aggressive, as the report notes: “bringing a new modem to the finish line in two years is really pushing it” (unnamed source).
The report suggests that a 2023 deadline would be more realistic, as Apple has never produced its own modem. Most of the people involved in the project, according to the unnamed source, “may not fully understand how long it takes”.
Said modem, regardless if it comes in 2022 or 2023, will be part of the Apple A chip. A system-on-a-chip approach, with the modem baked into the main processor, is the route Apple wants to go, following the example of Huawei, and its recently announced Kirin 990 SoC.