5G is coming to the Mac–but you probably shouldn’t wait for it


MacBooks are great portable computers, but they lack one key feature for true, on-the-road usability: cellular connectivity. That may change in a future MacBook—but it’s going to take a while.

In his latest Power On newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman provides a progress report about Apple’s in-house chip development. One major project Apple has been working on is its own cellular modem, which has been in the works for some time. Gurman reports that the modem could be ready by 2026, but it will take “two or three additional years” for it to be used in the iPad, Apple Watch, and yes, the Mac.

If the modem is ready in 2026, why so long for it to be used in the Mac? Gurman says Apple needs that time to figure out how to integrate the modem into the System on a Chip–a.k.a. the M-series chip at the heart of every Mac.

Speaking of the SoC, Gurman mentions that Apple will eventually create chips using a 2-nanometer process, but no timeline is provided. The M3, which Apple uses in the new iMac and MacBook Pro that just started shipping less than two weeks ago, is made with the 3nm process, a process that we’ll likely see for a couple of generations, at least.

A cellular-equipped MacBook would be a boon for users, especially those who often work on location. Public Wi-Fi isn’t reliable and often not secure–if Wi-Fi is available at all. (Gurman also reported that Apple is working on its own combined Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chip.) Lots of MacBook users resort to using their iPhone as a hotspot, which means battery life is being expended by two devices. Alas, it looks like those solutions will be it for now and we’ll have to wait until the end of this decade to see what cellular connectivity looks like on the Mac.


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