Now everything has 5G: When will it be the turn of the Mac?

Now everything has 5G: When will it be the turn of the Mac?

Sometimes I like to spend the morning working in my neighborhood coffee shop. The atmosphere is nice, the owner always greets me with a sincere “Hello friend, nice to see you!” and it’s much warmer than my home garage office.

The problem is that the Internet connection is not very good. The store’s background music is an audible network connection monitor: occasionally a stutter and pause is heard as a sign that the connection has failed.

When this happens, the store’s Wi-Fi stops working. Most of the time it’s just a moment, but it sets off all the alarms and means I have to watch out for something I shouldn’t be paying attention to.

In big cities it is not very difficult to find a free Wi-Fi connection, but a reliable Wi-Fi connection is. Even Wi-Fi that is paid for or requires registration (such as in a hotel) is not perfect.

There’s nothing we can do to fix it, apart from complaining to people who already know about it, but there is something we can fall back on as an alternative: the cellular data on our iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches.

But that also has a problem: the Mac is not on that list. It’s about time Apple fixed it, and with the rumored MacBook Air redesign looking imminent, I’m hoping we’ll start to see Apple equip its laptops with the long-awaited ability to connect to mobile networks.

Tethering is not an optimal option

When Wi-Fi is unavailable or unreliable, you can turn to your iPhone and use the tethering (known as a Personal Hotspot or Personal Access Point) for your Mac to connect to the Internet.

In case you are not familiar with this concept, how it works is that you can configure the iPhone to act as a Wi-Fi hotspot that other devices connect to, just like a normal Wi-Fi network.

Apple calls “Personal Hotspot” tethering on the iPhone and you can activate it (as long as your mobile phone plan allows the tethering) in Settings > personal hotspot.

5G connectivity to the Mac

The tethering is a solution, but not the optimal one. The Mac is connected to your iPhone via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or USB, and isn’t directly connected to cellular. Thats why he tethering it is relatively slow. Even when doing something as simple as checking email, loading a web page, or accessing shared storage, there’s a pre-pause.

In addition, the iPhone battery suffers from it. Doing demanding tasks using a personal hotspot can take a toll on your battery. I cringe just thinking about watching a video or uploading large files on a tethered connection.

And, obviously, it also consumes your iPhone’s data if you don’t have an unlimited plan.

Is a solution on the way?

Why hasn’t Apple offered mobile connectivity on MacBooks? Obviously, it would be the best solution, especially now that 5G is becoming more and more common.

All of Apple’s latest iPhones and iPads have 5G options (even the $489 iPhone SE 2), but the Mac still has no way to connect to anything other than Wi-Fi.

But even if Apple doesn’t offer a modem with its upcoming M2-chip MacBooks, there might be a glimmer of hope for the future.

In 2019, Apple acquired Intel’s modem business for the purpose of manufacturing its own modem, just as it has done with CPUs. A few months ago, a report claimed that Apple’s first modem (which is being designed in-house) won’t go into production until 2023.

And while it’s obvious that Apple will be using its own modems in iPhones and iPads, we hope it decides to put it in the Mac too.

However, the debut on the Mac could be delayed. Apple’s modem could come out at the same time as the iPhone 15’s A17 processor, but rumors say the first-generation modem probably won’t be built into the SoC.

Since Apple’s M-series chips are derived from the A-series, that probably means that 2023’s M3 processors won’t have an integrated modem either. For space, heat, and battery issues, Apple likely won’t design its laptops for a standalone modem, so we may see that until 2024 at the earliest.

So we’ll just have to wait for the arrival of 5G on a Mac. But if we’re lucky, Apple will say “lost in the river” and bring the 5G Mac soon as part of the MacBook Air redesign this year and use one of the modems of Qualcomm.

Then I can go to my favorite coffee shop and when the music starts to stutter, I won’t have to think twice.

Original article published on