Apple’s 6G Research Heating Up as 5G Modem Hits Delays

From Gurman Power On news, Apple is turning more attention to 6G cellular technology, even while its 5G modem efforts remain messy and delayed. Bringing modem chip development fully in-house has proven one of Apple’s most challenging projects.

What factors drive Apple’s urgency here? Firstly, Apple aims to avoid extending its modem supply contract with Qualcomm again. The two titans have sparred over licensing terms before, leaving Apple beholden to a major competitor for this vital iPhone component. Further delays would mark the effort as a failure.

Secondly, modems require exhaustive global testing. As the iPhone’s connectivity hub, a faulty modem cripples overall performance. If Apple’s first 5G modem flops, it damages Tim Cook’s reputation.

Finally, in-housing modems theoretically allows greater control and financial upside. But unlike Apple’s blazing-fast A-series processors, a proprietary modem may deliver marginal real-world improvements. Could tricky marketing undermine the switch?

While persevering on 5G modems, Apple seeks more cellular architects to investigate 6G. Back in 2021, signs emerged of early 6G research. Now a specific job posting calls for a “Cellular Platform Architect” to “drive and coordinate the design and modeling of a 6G reference architecture.”

The role would have engineers “actively participate in modeling and prototyping activities” to “evaluate technology candidates and use cases.” They must also “collaborate cross-functionally” across teams “in proposing, planning, and implementing simulations and experiments.”

Don’t expect consumer 6G products soon, however. The 6G standard may not arrive until 2030, with uncertain speed gains over 5G.

So while Apple expands 6G teams for future iPhones, its 5G modem project remains disappointing (Apple reportedly throwing in towel on custom 5G Modem development). Sources say the years-long effort winds down as development deadends.

Can Apple rally to deliver a workable 5G modem on time? Or will 6G research outpace modem production, leaving Apple buying Qualcomm chips for years to come? Share your perspective in @Gizmoweek X/Twitter!

Related Posts: Conflicting Reports Muddy Status of Apple’s Beleaguered 5G Modem Plans

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

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