Apple has temporarily stopped working on the Wi-Fi chip they were developing, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. He stated that development has been halted and Apple will continue this way for a while.
In-house Wi-Fi Chip development paused ‘for a While’
Apple has reportedly halted development on its own Wi-Fi chip, which aimed to replace the one supplied by Broadcom. The company was aiming to have this chip ready for the iPhone 17 line-up in 2025, but according to TF International’s Ming-Chi Kuo, the company has encountered difficulties in creating a single chip that supports both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.
Apple has halted developing its own Wi-Fi chips; Broadcom is the biggest winner of the iPhone 15’s upgrade to Wi-Fi 6E and the leading beneficiary of the Wi-Fi industry-standard upgrade to Wi-Fi 6E/7 with higher ASP.https://t.co/XEZ0bVV8A8
— 郭明錤 (Ming-Chi Kuo) (@mingchikuo) January 26, 2023
Apple was reportedly developing a Wi-Fi chip that would combine both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functions and replace parts currently sourced from Broadcom. According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, the company was aiming to transition to using its own chips starting in 2024 and completely replace Broadcom parts by 2025.
This chip is separate from the 5G modem chip that Apple is also developing to replace technology from Qualcomm. Apple’s ultimate goal is to produce more of the iPhone’s critical components in-house, reducing its dependence on third-party companies
To begin using Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 chips from Broadcom
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that it will be risky for Apple to use its own Wi-Fi chips in the next two to three years as standards are changing and Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 are being adopted. He thinks that for now, Apple will begin using Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 chips from Broadcom.
The reason behind the halt in development of the Wi-Fi chip is because Apple wants to focus on developing advanced 3-nanometer chips that are expected to power future iPhones and other devices. Kuo states that the insufficient development resources are causing delays in the mass production of not only Apple’s 5G chip, but also the Wi-Fi chip.
Apple’s ultimate goal is to develop a chip that combines cellular modem, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth functions into one chip. The company is also working to replace the radio-frequency chips and chips for wireless charging that it currently gets from Qualcomm. According to Kuo, Apple’s previous development for a Wi-Fi solution was a Wi-Fi only chip, not the rumored Wi-Fi and Bluetooth combo chip, which is more challenging to develop.
Due to the delay in the development of Apple’s own Wi-Fi chip, Broadcom is expected to benefit as the supplier of the new Wi-Fi 6E chips for the iPhone 15 series at a higher average selling price. On the other hand, Qualcomm, which was expecting to see its share of new iPhone models using its modem drop to 20%, is now back at 100% until Apple resolves the issues with the development of its own 5G modem.
According to Ming-Chi Kuo’s blog post on Medium:
More specifically, Apple’s previous development for Wi-Fi solution was the Wi-Fi-only chip and not the Wi-Fi+Bluetooth combo chip. From a design standpoint, developing a Wi-Fi+Bluetooth combo chip is more challenging than just a Wi-Fi-only chip.
Since most of Apple’s products use the combo chip, it would be even more challenging to replace Broadcom’s combo chips with its own if Apple decides to do so.