Apple plans to work with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to manufacture its own 5G modems for future iPhones, according to a new report in Nikkei. Apple reportedly plans to use TSMC’s 4nm process node, which has not yet been used for any commercial product; the modem is apparently being developed and tested at 5nm before going into mass production at 4nm in 2023.
Apple’s switch to modems of its own design is widely expected in 2023, and TSMC is the natural manufacturing partner. Qualcomm, the dominant player in the industry and maker of modem components for the entire iPhone 13 lineup, recently said it would account for only 20 percent of iPhone modem orders in two years.
Apple bought Intel’s 5G modem division in 2019, which anticipates the eventual change. Qualcomm and Apple agreed earlier this year to end a costly patent dispute over modem technology more than $ 4 billion as part of the settlement.
TSMC is the manufacturer of all iPhone A-series and M1 systems-on-chip processors for Mac computers. Corresponding Nikkei, there are hundreds of TSMC engineers in Cupertino working with Apple’s chip development team. 2022 iPhone SoCs will reportedly use TSMC’s 4nm process, and some iPad models are slated to use 3nm processors in 2023. Nikkei says the iPhone will make the 3nm leap “so soon” next year.