Thursday, November 30, 2023

MacBooks with 5G are in Apple’s plans, but don’t get your hopes up yet

A fairly recurring complaint that is made to Apple is when it will launch a MacBook with 5G. And everything indicates that the request has not fallen on deaf ears, since those from Cupertino would be working on introducing variants of their laptops with a cellular connection. Of course, you shouldn’t get your hopes up too much in advance.

As mentioned by Mark Gurman in the most recent edition of his newsletter Power On, Californians’ roadmap includes the development of MacBooks with 5G. However, this plan is part of a much larger strategy that involves the creation of its own cellular modem. A project to which Apple has already dedicated several years, but with more pain than glory in the results.

The renowned journalist of Bloomberg once again highlighted the inconveniences that Tim Cook’s team are facing in the development en casa of a component to provide mobile connectivity to your devices. The idea is that the 5G modem debuts on the iPhone, but the initiative has been delayed on multiple occasions, both due to hardware and software problems.

The most recent data indicates that Apple could just debut this key piece in the iPhone SE 4, with a target date today established between the end of 2025 and the beginning of 2026. A couple of years after this, the company would begin the transition to implement it in the iPad, the Apple Watch and, finally, on the Mac. That is why, with luck and wind in our favor, a MacBook with a 5G connection could appear no earlier than 2028.

Why is it taking Apple so long to launch a MacBook with 5G?

The current agreement between Apple and Qualcomm for the provision of 5G modems extends until 2026. In that year, the San Diego chipmaker expects to supply around 20% of the cellular connectivity chips used in the iPhone. Those from Cupertino, meanwhile, are working on their own solution that has proven to be very challenging.

Apple doesn’t want to release its own modem until it works as well or better than any top-tier third-party alternative. This has led to the project requiring much longer development times. And, as we already said, the hardware will not reach other Apple products until its implementation on the iPhone is successful. Thus, no longer wanting to depend on external suppliers, a MacBook with 5G is presented as an option no less than 5 years away.

According to Gurman, Apple’s original idea is for its modem to function as a standalone component. But the ultimate goal is that It can be integrated with the SoC of its different products. This means that, if the plan is not modified midway, the hypothetical 5G connection of future MacBooks will be integrated into the Apple Silicon M series chips.

A long term strategy

This is not the first time there has been talk of the possible development of a MacBook with 5G. In 2019, for example, it was rumored that Apple would launch a laptop with cellular connectivity in the second half of 2020. Something that certainly never happened. Since then, the possibility has been the cause of some loose speculation, but without much weight.

If the report of Bloomberg you’re right, Only in the final stretch of the current decade could we see a MacBook with 5G. This will depend on Apple finalizing its own cellular modem on time, and that its use does not negatively impact other areas. For example, the design, autonomy and retail price of the equipment.

It is worth remembering that Apple has already flirted with the possibility of including mobile connectivity in its laptops. In 2008, the company was close to launching a MacBook Air with support for 3G networks. However, the project was canceled due to Steve Jobs. Because? Because the modem took up too much space and would have forced users to commit to a telephone operator. In 2016, meanwhile, Apple registered two patents for the use of LTE connection in MacBooks, which has also not been implemented to date.

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