Apple Extends Qualcomm Modem Deal to 2026, Delaying Full 5G Modem Independence

Apple has extended its supply agreement with Qualcomm through 2026 to provide modem chips for iPhones, according to an announcement by Qualcomm, the deal was originally set to expire this year.

The renewed agreement indicates Apple’s custom-designed 5G modem chips are taking longer to develop than anticipated, upcoming iPhone 15 lineup is expected to still rely on Qualcomm modem technology.

It has been over 4 years since Apple acquired Intel’s smartphone modem business to jumpstart development of its own 5G chips, but internal modem efforts have reportedly faced repeated delays.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo previously predicted Apple wouldn’t be able to launch iPhones with its own modem until 2025 at the earliest, Qualcomm deal extension lines up with that timeline.

Apple’s proprietary 5G modem, codenamed Leda, is now not expected to begin mass production until the second half of 2025. Even the 2025 iPhone may need to split orders between Qualcomm and Apple’s own modem.

The renewed Qualcomm agreement provides Apple a reliable backup while its engineering team continues trying to catch up in the challenging modem chip space.

Given the multi-year struggles, Apple is likely wise to take a gradual approach switching supplier reliance fully to its own in-house modem. While the Qualcomm extension is pricy, it provides supply security as Apple navigates the technical hurdles ahead.

EDITOR PICKED: Apple iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Pro Features: USB-C, telephoto lens, Color, Charging

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Max Hyland
Max Hyland
Long form contributor Apple iPhone, iPad, watch reviews, opinion, editorial

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