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Apple is already working on developing 6G wireless technology



IPhone 12 and 12 Pro, side by side
Enlarge / IPhone 12 and 12 Pro, side by side.

Samuel Axon

Apple has posted several job postings indicating that they are hiring engineers to work with 6G technology internally, so that they do not have to rely on partners like Qualcomm as the next generation of wireless technology hits several years.

The job listings, first discovered and reported by Bloomberg, include titles such as “Wireless Research Systems Engineer ̵

1; 5G / 6G” and “RAN1 / RAN4 Standards Engineer.”

The listings have statements such as “You will be part of a team that defines and investigates next generation standards such as 6G,” “You will investigate and design the next generation (6G) wireless communication systems for radio access networks with emphasis on PHY / MAC / L2 / L3 layers , “” Participate in industry / academic forums that are passionate about 6G technology, “and” Contribute to future 3GPP RAN work products on 6G technology. ”

The roles are in the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, as well as in San Diego, where Apple opened offices specifically to focus on wireless and silicon technology, with an apparent goal of sniping talent from Qualcomm’s headquarters in San Diego.

Apple introduced its first 5G iPhones in the iPhone 12 series late last year, and these phones use Qualcomm modems. But recent reports have already revealed that Apple plans to design its own modems so that they can release Qualcomm components from future phones, just as it is developing its own silicon for Macs now to eventually replace Intel chips in most of product series.

Total end-to-end integration of all parts of hardware, software and services in devices has long been both an important marketing point and an internal guiding principle for product development at Apple. The company says it believes that this approach enables better products and experiences for users, but it also enables Apple to move forward with less and less dependence on other players to achieve success.

Apple recently joined the industry group “Next G Alliance” with other companies such as LG and Google to work together to define the specifications for 6G, which is new and is not expected to reach consumers for many years yet. There are no details yet about the timeline, specifications or features of the 6G. 5G is just about to roll out in the last couple of years, and the vast majority of the globe does not yet have access to 5G or the full potential for it.

So when Apple joins groups like the Next G Alliance or hires for positions like these, it generally won’t tell us much about near future product plans. That said, reports on the company’s progress on its own modems suggest that Apple will likely reach that possibility before 6G rolls out, so the first Apple-produced modems will likely be 5G, not 6G.

In our reviews of the iPhone 12 series last year, we found that 5G had a significant negative impact on the phone’s battery life. Future modem improvements may reduce that effect.


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