Apple plans to partner with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. for the production of its own 5G modems for future iPhones, according to a new report released in Nikkei. Apple plans to use TSMC’s 4nm process node, which has yet to be deployed for any commercial product; the modem is apparently being designed and tested at 5nm before going into mass production in 2023 at 4nm.
Apple’s switch to modems of its own is expected to happen in 2023, and TSMC is the natural manufacturing partner. Qualcomm, which is the dominant player in the industry and produces modem components for the entire iPhone 13 lineup, recently said it expects to account for just 20% of iPhone modem orders in two years.
Apple bought Intel’s 5G modem division in 2019, foreshadowing the eventual change. Earlier that year, Qualcomm and Apple agreed to end a costly modem technology patent dispute, with Qualcomm receiving more than $ 4 billion as part of the settlement.
TSMC is the manufacturer of all iPhone A-series processors and M1 systems on a chip for Mac computers. According to Nikkei, hundreds of Cupertino-based TSMC engineers work with Apple’s chip development team. The 2022 iPhone SoCs would use TSMC’s 4nm process, and some iPad models would adopt 3nm processors in 2023. Nikkei says the iPhone will make the 3nm jump “as early as” next year.