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Good news and bad news for people waiting on a MacBook with built-in 5G

If you’ve been patiently waiting for Apple to release a MacBook equipped with cellular connectivity, I have good and bad news for you today. The good news is that this is something on Apple’s roadmap, but the bad news is we’re years away from it actually becoming a reality.

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Last week, Bloomberg reported on the delays that continue to plague Apple’s efforts to develop its own in-house modems and ditch its reliance on Qualcomm. According to that report, Apple will miss its goal of finalizing its first 5G modem in time for the 2025 iPhones and is instead targeting a launch in 2026.

Now, in the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has more details on when Apple’s custom modem will make its way to its different product lines.

Once the Apple modem begins appearing in iPhone models in 2026 (assuming there are no further delays), Gurman reports that Apple will “probably need two or three additional years” to get that chip inside the Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac. The report says:

But the real test will be whether Apple can successfully apply its do-it-yourself approach to new areas. That includes building its own cellular modem, a component that’s now expected to be ready around 2026. The company will then probably need two or three additional years to get that chip inside cellular versions of the Apple Watch and iPad — and the Mac, once the part is integrated into the company’s system-on-a-chip.

What this means, in an ideal world, is that the first cellular-equipped MacBooks would be ready sometime around 2028 or 2029.

9to5Mac’s Take

Reading between the lines, this report seemingly means that we shouldn’t expect a cellular MacBook (even with a Qualcomm modem) until 2028 at the earliest. Apple seems set on not releasing a cellular-equipped MacBook until it can do so with its own 5G modems inside.

This would also allow Apple to integrate the modem directly into the M-series chip inside the Mac, improving things like efficiency and saving space internally.

In 2008, it was reported that Apple had considered releasing a MacBook Air with 3G, but shelved those plans due to the internal space a 3G modem would require. We also saw a protoype MacBook Pro with 3G surface on eBay at one point.

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Avatar for Chance Miller Chance Miller

Chance is an editor for the entire 9to5 network and covers the latest Apple news for 9to5Mac.

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