Apple has suspended work on the Wi-Fi chip it was developing, Apple supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today. Development work on the Apple-designed Wi-Fi chip has now been “halted” and will be suspended for “some time. This means that Apple supplier Broadcom will continue to provide Wi-Fi chips to Apple for the foreseeable future, including for the upcoming iPhone 15 model in 2023.
News of Apple’s development of a Wi-Fi chip first appeared in January, when Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said Apple was working on a combined Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chip, with the goal of starting the transition to its own chip in 2024 and replacing Broadcom’s components by 2025.
The Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips are 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 key components in-house, reducing its reliance on third-party companies.
Ultimately, Apple wants to create a chip that combines cellular modem, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionality in a triple play, and the company is also working to replace the RF chip and wireless charging chip it gets from Qualcomm.
Kuo revealed that Apple’s previously developed Wi-Fi solution was a Wi-Fi-only chip, rather than the rumored Wi-Fi and Bluetooth combo chip and that pairing the two technologies was more challenging for Apple from a design standpoint.
Development of the Wi-Fi chip has been suspended as Apple looks to focus its chip design resources on advanced 3nm chips that will support future iPhones and other devices, so the “lack of development resources” has delayed not only the development of Apple’s 5G chip, but also the progress of the Wi-Fi chip.
According to Kuo, Apple’s use of its own Wi-Fi chips will also be at risk over the next two to three years, as standards continue to change and Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 are being adopted. For now, Apple will begin to adopt Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 chips for its devices, from which Broadcom will continue to benefit.