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Goodbye 5G, Apple to develop its own 6G wireless technology — Here's what that means

iPhone 12 on a leafy background
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Apple is hiring engineers to start working on the next generation of wireless technology: 6G, so it can start relying on itself rather than using Qualcomm tech. Don't hold your breath, though.

Apple has started posting job listings for a "Wireless Research Systems Engineer – 5G/6G" and a Radio Access Network (RAN) standards engineer to start researching and designing "next generation (6G) wireless communication systems for radio access networks with emphasis on the PHY/MAC/L2/L3 layers." The job also describes working on "next generation (5G/6G) cellular systems."

Currently, Apple's iPhone 12 phones use Qualcomm modems for the recently introduced 5G connectivity, but with these listings, it's clear Apple is venturing out on its own journey to create an in-house modem. Surprising? After making its own popular M1 chips for MacBooks, we think not.

As pointed out by tech website Ars Technica, the jobs are stationed in San Diego, which is where Qualcomm is headquartered. It's looking like Apple is making it easier to nab a few engineers from the wireless tech company. Sneaky.

While Apple's development of 6G technology is starting up, we won't see the fruits of its wireless labor for a number of years. As the job listing suggests, we'll most likely see Apple's own modems start being integrated into future iPhones (probably a tad too soon for the upcoming iPhone 13), starting with its very own 5G technology.

In our review, we found 5G was an issue in terms of an iPhone 12's battery life. This may be one of the reasons why Apple is making its own modems, to make 5G an "always-on" option rather than turning it off and on every so often. 

The waiting game for 6G

It's not surprising that 6G wireless technology is already in the works, and Apple is not the first to take a whack at it.

While 5G has only recently been let out into the wild, it was already in development as early as 2008 thanks to a 5G R&D program in South Korea and NASA helping to develop Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technology and the 5G tech to go with it.

That's more than a decade in the making, and 5G still hasn't fully been utilized seeing as the first line of 5G smartphones has only recently been released. 5G offers a massive upgrade over 4G, from miles faster connectivity and being able to share unlimited quantities of data.

For now, we're still in its early days, so who knows what 6G's capabilities will be (the mind boggles). In the meantime, get a taste of 5G with the best smartphones of 2021.