Apple's iPhones and iPads currently use modems designed by Qualcomm, a company that it has been trying to ditch for years. As part of that process, it bought Intel's modem business back in 2019, handing over a cool billion dollars in the process. It's been working on turning that acquisition into modems that could be used in its devices ever since, with no success. The result? A new report claims that the company has given up on the project entirely and is starting to wind it down.
However, that report comes via a source that has had a limited track record with such things and bases their leaks on supposed supply chain sources. In this instance, the leaker claims that their information came from a "related company's source," which doesn't really help us know whether it is more likely or not. But we'll tell you what they said and let you make up your own mind on whether this leak can be trusted.
The leak comes via a post on the Naver blogging platform by a user that goes by the yeux1122 username. According to them, Apple has entered the stage of liquidating its investment in the 5G modems it's been developing for years. The leak goes on to say that the plans to use Apple-designed modems in the future iPhone SE 4 appear to have failed, hinting that the phone will use Qualcomm from here on out.
That iPhone SE 4 is a phone that has been rumored for a long time and is expected to feature a complete redesign to make the budget phone more premium. Part of that will see the move to Face ID and away from the Home button, including Touch ID. But Apple was planning on that being the first phone to use its in-house modems - something that seems increasingly unlikely if you put any faith in this particular leak.
As unlikely as the idea of Apple canceling the modem project might be, there is no denying that it has struggled to turn its billion-dollar buyout of Intel's modem business into anything useable. Previous reports painted a pretty grim picture of Apple's modem being too big to fit into a phone, with miniaturization proving to be a problem. Apple recently extended its Qualcomm deal to 2026, suggesting that would be the year it would go all-in on its own modems. But if this report is accurate we can expect that deal to be extended once more at the very least.