Apple’s awesome chip team is now designing iPhone modems

Doris Richards
February 9, 2019

According to a new report from Reuters citing two unnamed sources familiar with the matter, Apple has moved its modem chip engineering effort into its in-house hardware technology group from its supply chain unit, which may be a sign that the tech giant wants to develop a key component of its iPhones after years of buying it from outside suppliers.

Apple now uses Intel 4G LTE modems in its iPhone and iPad Pro models. Accordingly Johny Srouji, who heads up the hardware side of things at Apple, will now also have to deal with this future modem.

Following the collapse in relations between them it looked like Apple was going to turn to Intel for all its modem needs, but a report from Reuters would seem to indicate that's not the long term plan for Apple, and that it would rather have full control over its modem destiny.

Reuters notes that Rubén Caballero used to lead the modem team before Srouji took over, with Dan Riccio overseeing the project.

Intel XMM 7560
Apple currently uses Intel 4G LTE modems in its iPhone and iPad Pro models

Apple declined to comment. Apple's timeline for coming out with its own modem chip could put it behind the initial launch of 5G phones, though it's been widely expected that the 2019 iPhones would lack 5G connectivity. The Cupertino-based company also released recruitment information for modem engineers in San Diego.

"When you're Apple, everything has to be good", said Linley Gwennap, president of chip industry research firm The Linley Group.

Though Apple designs and commissions the manufacturing of the iPhone's high-performing A Series chipsets, plenty of other components inside of Apple's phones are bought from other companies.

Apple's investment in modem chips comes as carriers and other phone makers are rolling out devices for the next generation of faster wireless networks known as 5G. Late previous year, job listings indicated that Apple was looking to hire a lot of cellular modem systems architects, fueling rumors that Apple would start designing its own iPhone modems. The way it is explained is that if Apple can combine the modem chip with the processor chip, it will throw its products into the next orbit. That saves space and battery life, two important considerations if Apple introduces augmented reality features into future products.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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