Apple is moving to in-house 5G modem chips for its 2024 iPhones, as far as the chief executive of Qualcomm — which currently produces them for the tech giant — is aware.
“We’re making no plans for 2024, my planning assumption is we’re not providing [Apple] a modem in ’24, but it’s their decision to make,” Cristiano Amon told CNBC at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Apple’s most recent iPhone 14 models use Qualcomm modems, but the company has been looking to go solo in the wireless connectivity market for some years.
It bought Intel’s modem business in 2019 and there had been speculation it would begin using in-house parts this year.
In an interview with CNBC’s Karen Tso and Arjun Kharpal, Amon said Qualcomm had told investors back in 2021 that it did not expect to provide modems for the iPhone in 2023, but Apple then decided to continue for another year.
Amon did not confirm whether Apple would pay Qualcomm QTL licenses if it moves to its own modems, but said royalty was “independent from providing a chip.”
Qualcomm has been diversifying its business into automotive semiconductors and low-power applications.
Amon also addressed the U.S lawsuit filed against Qualcomm by British semiconductor firm Arm. The legal battle between two of the world’s biggest chip designers comes as Qualcomm seeks to grow in the PC market; to do so, it acquired a company called Nuvia, whose server chips are based on Arm architecture.
Arm contends it needs a license to use the chip designs and is seeking damages and to force Qualcomm to destroy various information and hardware related to the purchase.
“It’s very unfortunate, this litigation, but the reality is we have very broad rights to the Arm IP, one of their early licensees,” Amon said. “We feel pretty good about a solution and we’re just moving forward with our plans. And all of our customers are very excited about what we’re doing in this area.”
On a report by the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. government is considering revoking export licenses for U.S. suppliers to Huawei, Amon said: “We do have licenses to sell 4G chips to Huawei. We’re being compliant through our license, but we have not yet seen any action.”
He called the U.S. Chips and Science Act a “great thing” that had encouraged companies like TSMC and Samsung to build facilities in the country.
A revocation of its license would result in a financial hit to Qualcomm, he said, but stressed the company was more diversified and provided companies including Samsung and Honor with modems and was growing in automotives and the internet of things.