Last spring, Apple and Qualcomm settled their long outstanding legal issues and forged a new supply agreement. As part of the deal, the San Diego-based manufacturer agreed to produce new fifth-generation mobile data antennas for the iPhone. However, Fast Company now reports the electronics maker is developing a 5G mobile device antenna in-house.
Apple’s iPhone 5G Plans
According to Fast Company, Apple decided to craft its own 5G antenna after seeing Qualcomm’s package, the QTM 525. Apparently, its size would force the company to produce a version of the iPhone that’s thicker than it would like. As a result, Apple started work on a smaller version of the essential piece of its flagship handset.
That said, Apple isn’t planning to completely exclude Qualcomm from the development of its first fifth-generation data network-enabled smartphone. The Cupertino, California-based corporation intends to use the chipmaker’s Snapdragon X55 modem in the device. Notably, Samsung is using the same component in its forthcoming Galaxy S20 line of handsets.
However, Apple’s new internal development initiative may run into problems down the line. For one thing, Qualcomm’s modem and antenna are designed to function as one seamless 5G radio. As such, the Big Tech firm may struggle to develop a component that works as well.
Besides, the device maker doesn’t have the best history of manufacturing antennas. The iPhone 4 featured a flawed design that caused it to drop calls regularly. Similarly, a study found iPhone 7s equipped with Intel-made LTE radios performed worse than their Qualcomm chip-enabled counterparts.
If Apple builds or requisitions an underperforming antenna, it may lose market share to manufacturers with more reliable devices. Also, the Silicon Valley giant doesn’t have a lot of time for chip development. The firm reportedly plans to release three different iterations of the 5G iPhone later this year.
For those reasons, Fast Company reports, Apple currently has multiple iPhone 5G development programs going. One of the company’s projects involves using Qualcomm’s 5G package, but another features an in-house made antenna.
Apple’s Longer-Term iPhone Plans
No matter how things go with the iPhone 5G, Apple’s long-term road map involves doing a lot more of its handset development. In particular, the device maker intends to and its relationship with Qualcomm sooner rather than later. Fast Company states Apple dislikes the component maker’s pricing.
The corporation improved its component fabricating abilities by purchasing Intel’s smartphone modem assets for $1 billion last July. Moreover, two months ago, The Burn-In reported Apple had an interest in buying Broadcom’s radio frequency component business.
If Apple’s leadership does intend to bring most of its chip development in-house, that is what will happen. However, as the corporation just saw growth in its device segment for the first time in a year, it might not want to chase waterfalls just now.