Apple 5G baseband signal is far behind Android brands

After the commercialization of the 5G network, most Android brands keyed into the new network. However, Apple did not move so fast. At some point, the company was a year behind the competition in terms of 5G. However, this did not affect the company given that 5G physical infrastructure (like base stations) was not readily available at the time. After Apple launched its first 5G iPhone, there were some lapses. Its signal strength is nowhere near many Android brands. This is not a surprise because these brands had over a year to develop their systems and devices. Now, the first 5G iPhone, iPhone 12, is now over two years in the market. However, the Apple 5G baseband signal is still way behind Android.

Apple 5G iPhone 5G baseband

Recent reports reveal that the development of 5G baseband chips is now gaining huge funding from Apple. The company will probably use these chips on iPhone devices early next year. This is contrary to earlier predictions, it’s actually earlier. Apple will release a self-developed baseband chip next year, Qualcomm CEO stated at the just finished MWC Global Mobile Conference.

The rumours of Apple developing its own 5G baseband chip have been around for a while. But as of the iPhone 14 series that was released last year, Apple had not yet used the baseband processor. Also, it is said that this year’s iPhone 15 series would continue to use a Qualcomm baseband, specifically the Qualcomm X70 5G.

Apple will use Qualcomm baseband for now

At the moment, Apple will remain with Qualcomm, using its baseband chip. Qualcomm’s 5G baseband chip actually does a great job. This baseband chip features an AI feature that can automatically optimize the communication rate. The chip can also increase average transmission speed and signal quality. In addition, it decreases latency and improves coverage while also reducing energy usage. Nonetheless, a lot of customers still anticipate Apple to use its own baseband chips as soon as possible.

Apple 5G Baseband

Because Apple and Qualcomm previously clashed over the baseband, Apple may have had the option to create its own baseband. The two parties ultimately reconciled after having torn their skins apart over it.

Legal action is merely a means that companies employ to advance their own interests. How are Qualcomm and Apple unable to fathom this? When Apple and Ericsson previously sued each other, the matter was ultimately resolved. There is only cooperation as long as the interests are aligned.

However, Apple’s 5G baseband chip is not progressing well. There are several reports that its self-developed baseband has run into real challenges. These issues are both technically and in terms of patents.  We are all aware that Qualcomm, a tech corporation with multiple communication-related patents, has forced many mobile phone brands including Apple—to contend with patent issues.

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Why Apple can not use its baseband 5G chips now

The primary reason Apple cannot use its in-house 5G chips for the iPhone 15 series is not due to technical issues. Rather, it is because Apple believes that doing so will violate two Qualcomm patents.  As a result, it’s possible that users may not be able to use the iPhone’s self-developed 5G baseband chip over the next two years. At the earliest, this chip will be ready for use in 2025.

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What most people didn’t anticipate, however, is that Apple has already decided to use its own chips to replace the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips made by Broadcom. This shows that Apple is not only creating its own baseband chips, but also Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips. The layout of these chips is already on its way.

Cristiano Amon, the CEO and president of Qualcomm, has made public comments regarding the launch date for Apple’s own 5G baseband. Qualcomm CEO Anmon told the media during a press conference at the 2023 Mobile World Congress that this might occur soon.

“We expect Apple to launch their own modem in 2024, but if they need ours, they can always come to us.”

5G Baseband

As a result, rumours of Apple’s self-developed 5G baseband will reportedly start to circulate a full year in advance. The company’s next iPhone SE4, iPad, and Apple Watch with cellular data features may be the first devices to use this baseband chip. Even if there are hardware issues after the launch, they can be fixed within the minimal controlled range because the market for this kind of device is not as large as that of the iPhone.

Apple 5G baseband to use TSMC 3nm process

Meanwhile, the most recent info indicates that Apple’s self-developed 5G baseband chip R&D code is Ibiza. Also, this chip will be produced using TSMC’s 3nm process. However, the supporting RF IC will use TSMC’s 7nm process. Recall that the previous report claims that Apple will use its own 5G baseband chip in the iPhone 16 series. Since the iPhone 16 series will arrive at the end of next year, this is actually a possibility. According to permutations, TSMC will start the production of this chip in trial quantities in the second half of this year. It will gradually ramp up production in the first half of the following year.

Along with enabling Apple to expand its own hardware design, the development of its own 5G baseband might enable it to reduce its reliance on Qualcomm. After all, Apple and Qualcomm have frequently clashed over the years. In the future, Apple can take the initiative while lowering baseband expenses.  Some users, however, believe that Apple’s in-house baseband will improve the signal, but it seems unlikely. After all, the iPhone employs a Qualcomm baseband chip at the same level as the Android camp, which is still inferior. The issue is not a baseband issue, rather an antenna design issue is the primary cause.

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