Apple's effort to become its own supplier hasn't slowed down. In fact, it'll only gain more momentum over the next few years. 5G modems are already in development, according to The Information.
You won't see the first custom-made unit anytime soon, but the ongoing plan serves as another reminder that Apple wants to cut out as many suppliers as possible.
The iPhone models due out in late 2019 aren't going to offer next-generation connectivity. In 2020, Apple's iPhone could latch onto 5G networks using a modem from Intel. Since the Cupertino-based company's locked into a feud with Qualcomm, Intel should get the entire order. Then it could be an all-Apple batch of modems taking over the following year.
From the report, it sounds like the iPhone line should gain an Apple-made 5G modem in 2021. So there's a large enough window to introduce a fast, reliable component as wireless networks transition to 5G.
Major U.S. and global carriers aren't rushing their 5G networks to match 4G's footprint, either. The coverage won't be nearly as widespread until sometime in 2020. With that much leeway, Apple can decide exactly how to approach 5G on the iPhone and potentially other devices.
In San Diego, Apple's hiring talent away from other chipmakers to make significant progress. The new facility will be where research and development on cellular, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth chips occurs.
Apple has replaced several suppliers for chips in recent years. It assembles the processors for the iPhone, the iPad, and the Apple Watch. AirPods, too, are using an in-house wireless chip. As for the Mac, the T-branded co-processor joined the mix in 2016. Needless to say, Apple's very interested in cutting out suppliers and boosting its margins.