iPhone will continue to use Qualcomm chips through 2026, as Apple-designed 5G modem faces delays

Qualcomm announced today that Apple will continue to use Qualcomm 5G modems for the iPhone at least through 2026, two years longer than what the company had previously declared to investors.

The statement confirms that the original schedule for the Apple 5G modem has been pushed back from the initial 2024 release window, following internal delays with Apple’s modem chip development.

Qualcomm says that it now expects to supply only about 20% of the modems needed for Apple’s 2026 smartphone launch, which indicates that we may see the first Apple-designed modem arrive with the iPhone 17 or 18.

This roughly corroborates what analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said last week, that he expects Apple to use its own modem chip beginning in 2025.

It is possible that this timeline will be changed again, and some analysts believe that Apple will first use its in-house modem design in another product, like possibly an iPad, before relying on it for its flagship iPhone range. This could mean we see the Apple modem launch in a product sooner than the 2025/2026 timeframe.

An Apple-designed 5G chip could result in a more power-efficient design, as it would allow Apple to integrate the modem directly on the SoC. It will also improve Apple’s profit margins over time, by reducing the licensing fees it pays to Qualcomm per iPhone unit sold.

However, at least for the next couple of generations, Apple’s dependency on Qualcomm will remain. That includes the iPhone 15 lineup, which Apple is about to announce at its “Wanderlust” media event tomorrow.

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