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Forget 5G — Apple's already working on 6G

iPhone 12 Pro review
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple is rarely one to look backwards, and it’s already getting started on what should be the next big thing: 6G. According to job listings spotted by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Cupertino is looking for engineers to start work on 6G connectivity.

5G is still quite new, and only arrived on the iPhone 12 late last year, but the evolution of wireless networks is always ongoing. 6G isn’t expected to launch until 2030, but clearly Apple wants to get a head start.

The job listings Gurman spotted are for wireless system research engineers that will work on current and next-generation wireless networks. The listings mention 6G by name, too, promising that successful applicants will “research and design next generation (6G) wireless communication systems” and “participate in industry/academic forums passionate about 6G technology.”

Of course, Apple isn’t the only company working on 6G right now. Apple’s biggest mobile rival Samsung confirmed it was working on 6G technology all the way back in 2019  before many commercial 5G networks had even launched. 

Samsung predicts that 6G could launch as early as 2028, and will include extended reality, high fidelity mobile holograms, digital replicas, and machines exceeding current human expectations.

Over the years Apple has been working on developing all its technology in house, to great success. The M1 Mac chip and A14 Bionic processor have both significantly outmatched the competition, and it makes sense that Apple would want to do the same with its wireless hardware. 

Apple has already confirmed it’s been working on its first custom modem, presumably so it doesn’t have to be reliant on Qualcomm for component. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Apple is aiming to be completely self-sufficient before 6G arrives.

Gurman also points out that Apple joined an alliance of companies developing 6G standards last year. All of these factors combined suggest that Apple really is gearing up to be a major player in the 6G business. At the very least its positioning itself to help define what 6G is actually going to be.

It’s still uncertain as to exactly what 6G will offer, but so far the goal seems to be ensuring wireless networks can offer even faster speeds than 5G — up to 100 times faster by some estimates. It’s also expected to expand into the THz spectrum range, which will offer greater capacity, even lower latency than 5G,and improved spectrum sharing efficiency.

And Apple may well be on the forefront of that.