Apple signed a deal with Qualcomm Technologies for 5G modems to be used in iPhones released over the three years from 2024, a move the chip company’s CEO Cristiano Amon (pictured) has played down the probability of numerous times.

The deal extends a supply relationship between the pair for Snapdragon 5G Modem RF Systems and was announced the day before Apple is expected to unveil its latest batch of iPhones.

Qualcomm’s supply for Apple’s next devices will fall under the pair’s existing agreement.

Amon and other Qualcomm executives previously dampened expectations of a long-term arrangement with Apple for the component, with the device brand expected to introduce an in-house version after splashing $1 billion on most of Intel’s smartphone modem business in 2019.

Richard Windsor, founder of industry blog Radio Free Mobile, described the deal as “a big disappointment ” for Apple.

“Apple is a relative newcomer to this space and bought what I consider to be a second-rate asset from Intel in order to give itself a leg up,” he wrote in a research note.

“Unfortunately, this has not gone nearly as well as hoped and Apple is clearly still without a reliable 5G modem which has forced it to extend its contract with Qualcomm until at least 2026.”

Surprise move
Alongside striking a cautious note on the issue in several earnings calls, Qualcomm’s Amon confirmed the chip company was working to the assumption it was not supplying the modems in 2024 during an interview with CNBC at MWC Barcelona 2023.

He, however added it was Apple’s decision to make.

Apple is widely reported to have been working on its own modem since at least 2020, when Bloomberg cited comments from a senior employee in the company’s hardware division outlining the ambition.