It is very likely that we’ll see a Qualcomm-powered 5G iPhone in either 2020 or possibly 2021. We know this because Apple ended all litigation against Qualcomm and signed a six-year deal with the company just to make that happen.
However, according to a report from Fast Company, Apple has a very ambitious goal of releasing an iPhone powered by its own 5G modem by 2022. While certainly not impossible, this is a lofty ambition considering how Apple is essentially starting from scratch when it comes to creating its own modems.
Previously, we heard a rumor that Apple’s 5G iPhone modem — which would then have been created by Intel — was over five years away from being commercially ready. Somehow, it appears Apple thinks it can shave a full two years off that.
Regardless if Apple can achieve this goal or not, it likely doesn’t matter. Apple can comfortably use Qualcomm’s modems in iPhones for the foreseeable future without worry and the last thing the company would want to do is push out a modem that doesn’t work as well as Qualcomm’s. That’s one of the main reasons Apple stopped working with Intel in the first place.
Additionally, it’s not like Apple only needs to worry about the creation of the modem itself. It also needs to account for regulatory approval and carrier optimization procedures to ensure the 5G iPhone works on all the networks of the major carriers.
It will be interesting to see if Apple can make this 2022 goal work.