Apple will keep using Qualcomm's 5G tech in iPhones until at least 2026

It hasn't yet been able to manufacture its own smartphone modems at scale.

Brian Oh / Engadget

On the eve of Apple's big fall iPhone event, Qualcomm announced it will continue to provide the company with 5G smartphone modems through 2026. It’s an indication that while Apple has successfully scaled up its chipset manufacturing efforts and ended its reliance on Intel, the company hasn’t been able to do the same with 5G radios as yet.

However, it seems Qualcomm believes Apple will eventually be able to manufacture its own 5G radios at enough scale. Qualcomm only expects to supply around 20 percent of the components Apple will need for its 2026 iPhones.

It’s been clear for a while that Apple intends to build its own modems and bring more of the iPhone supply chain in house. It bought Intel’s mobile modem business for $1 billion four years ago, getting its hands on useful patents and knowledgeable staff in the process, as The Wall Street Journal notes. However, any plan to manufacture its own smartphone modems at scale evidently hasn’t come to pass yet.

The latest arrangement has no bearing on a patent license agreement between the companies that’s been in effect since 2019. That pact has a six-year term with the option to extend it by two years. The latest accord between the two sides has likely been in the works for some time, given that new iPhones with Qualcomm modems will be hitting shelves in the coming days.

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