Personnel Moves Indicate Apple is Designing its Own iPhone Radio Chips
Apple is getting serious about designing its own radio chips for future models of the iPhone. The move, which isn’t entirely unexpected, would essentially relieve the company from having to turn to outside suppliers like Intel or Qualcomm for the tech that allows its phones to connect to wireless networks.
Back in November, an analysis of several Apple job postings made clear the company’s intent to at least explore the possibility of going down this path. At the time, Bloomberg reported that the company was “aggressively hiring” engineers away from Qualcomm—a company that Apple is not on the best of terms with anyway. According to those postings, the Apple was looking for experienced engineers who were familiar with “wireless protocols like LTE and Bluetooth, and for those with experience in newer technology like 5G and millimeter wave.”
The company has taken another step forward, though, in its plans to develop that technology in-house. In a sign that Apple has made the project a much-higher priority, Reuters is reporting that they’ve moved the modem engineering unit within the chip design team. As such, Johny Srouji, Apple’s Senior VP of Hardware Technologies, will now oversee the project, moving it a few rungs up the corporate ladder.
Still, Reuters said it could be years before Apple’s efforts around developing radio chips in-house actually begin to pay off. With 5G technology on the horizon, it’s likely that the company will continue to use outside suppliers like Intel for its future 5G-ready iPhones. But the desire to bring that technology in-house would put Apple in a similar situation to smartphone rivals Samsung and Huawei—both of which already make their own modems.
Aside from the eventual cost savings Apple would realize, there are actual technical benefits as well. By combining these new radio chips with the processors that Apple already designs in-house the iPhone could save on space and battery life.