Apple's first 5G modem will be with us in 2022, two years after the first 5G iPhone.
We believe that September 2020 will see the first iPhone with a 5G modem, but that will have a Qualcomm chip inside, like most of the other 5G phones out there.
The 2022 date comes according to a Fast Company source close to the plans. However, it seems like an aggressive timeline to us given that earlier this year Intel had to give up on developing a 5G modem for the 2020 iPhone due to problems with production.
Apple subsequently bought Intel's modem division and is using the tech and personnel to develop its own hardware. Intel was already supplying Apple with 4G modems by that point.
However, Apple needed a Plan B and so it ceased its legal battles with Qualcomm so it could use its upcoming 5G modem - likely to be known as the X60 or X65 - inside the 2020 iPhone.
Given that there were problems with Intel's 5G modem though, two years is a tall order and we believe it will be quite remarkable if it can come anywhere near the performance of Qualcomm's 5G hardware in that timeframe. That's the thing - it's not just delievering it, it's making sure it can compete.
While the Qualcomm modem that Apple will use will be separate from the main SoC (System on Chip) it's likely that Apple's own modem will be incorporated in the SoC alongside Apple's A Series processor by that point or soon after.
The Fast Company source also points out that there is an "arduous testing and certification process" that needs to be gone through even after design and prototyping. For example, it will need to be tested by networks and organisations like the FCC.
The Qualcomm deal - inked earlier in 2019 - was due to run for six years, but of course, that doesn't mean that Apple couldn't use its own hardware alongside Qualcomm chips in some devices.