Apple commissions TSMC to build custom 5G modem for iPhone

Apple has reportedly tapped Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) to build 5G modems for future iPhones. It’s unclear exactly when the new hardware will be ready for deployment, but we are hearing it’ll be built on TSMC’s 4nm process sometime in 2023.

Sources familiar with the matter told Nikkei Asia that Apple aims to use TSMC’s 4nm manufacturing process for its first in-house 5G modem. The people added that Apple is also working on its own radio frequency and millimeter wave components to complement the 5G modem, with others noting that the iPhone maker is also developing its own power management chip for the modem.

Apple up to this point has relied on modem hardware from Qualcomm for 5G connectivity in its iPhones.

Apple has been looking to reduce its reliance on Qualcomm for a while now, going so far as to purchase Intel’s 5G modem business in mid-2019. Not having to rely on a supplier like Qualcomm for this vital component would not only save Apple money, it would enable Cupertino to boost efficiency through better hardware integration.

Curiously enough, Apple will use TSMC’s 5nm process to design and test-produce the chip, before switching to the more advanced 4nm tech later in the process. The publication notes that commercialization isn’t expected until 2023, although it’s unclear if the new chip would ship in iPhones that year or the next.