New iPhone tipped to get this game-changing upgrade — in 2023

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We're just a few months away from the iPhone 13, but some eyes are already on what's coming after that. According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple might use its own homegrown 5G modem for the iPhone 15.

We've known for a while that Apple wants to break free of Qualcomm's near-monopoly on cellular modems — and who can blame it. Being able to mark off one more thing in the supply chain would help Apple immensely.

Kuo claims that Apple might be ready to deploy its own 5G modems by 2023, which means that the iPhone 15 (or whatever it ends up being called) could be the first iPhone with an Apple-built modem. However, Kuo noted that Apple might push that back to the iPhone 16 in 2024. R&D on these sorts of things, especially with Apple's penchant for near-perfectionism, takes a long time.

If you'll recall, Apple dropped $1 billion on Intel's floundering mobile modem business in 2019. That alone signaled that the company planned on going its own way. A four-year turnaround, especially adapting to the challenges of 5G, isn't too bad.

Of course, we can't forget the settlement between Apple and Qualcomm from 2019. Out of court, both companies reached an agreement about Apple using Qualcomm's modems in its iPhones, iPads, and Watches. It was a whole mess with Apple losing several legal battles across the globe.

This year the iPhone 13 is expected to feature Qualcomm's X60 modem, which will support carrier aggregation and manufactured using a 5nm process. This should result in better performance as well as possibly longer battery life. 

2023 seems like it's a ways off, but considering how fast this year is progressing, we might find ourselves with an iPhone using an Apple-built 5G modem sooner than you'd think. For now, Qualcomm's work more than well enough.

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.