For quite some time, the expectation has been that Apple would release its first 5G iPhone in 2020. By next fall, most smartphone vendors will have launched a 5G handset (in fact, most have already), and it’s hard to see Apple skipping out. The only question is whether or not Apple will follow Samsung’s lead and release a separate 5G model, or if all of the 2020 iPhone models will be compatible with 5G. And now, we might have an answer.
Sources familiar with Apple’s plans tell Nikkei Asian Review that all three 2020 iPhone flagships — expected to come in 5.4-inch, 6.1-inch, and 6.7-inch sizes — will ship with advanced 5G modems designed by Qualcomm:
All three of the new iPhones will carry the most advanced 5G modem chip, known as X55 that is designed by U.S. mobile chip developer Qualcomm, four people familiar with the plan told Nikkei. The chip, which enables much faster downloads, faces such an increase in demand that there could be supply constraints, one person added.
You can read more about the X55 chip on Qualcomm’s website, but the 5G modem has peak theoretical download speeds of 7 Gbps and upload speeds of 3 Gbps. Actual speeds will depend on a variety of factors, including what the carriers support, but this is obviously a massive upgrade over 4G. Furthermore, the X55 chip is more power-efficient than the X50, which means that battery drain while connected to 5G shouldn’t be an issue.
“Apple is lagging behind somewhat in introducing 5G products and it definitely wants to catch up,” IDC market research agency analyst Joey Yen told Nikkei. “5G is one of the fanciest marketing buzzwords around … [especially] in such a mature and competitive market. It is a feature that can grab consumer attention and [allow companies to] claim they are technology leaders.”
Beyond Qualcomm’s modem, the report also claims that Apple “will use the world’s most advanced 5-nanometer chip technology” from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to make the A14 processor that will be featured inside the iPhone 12. And the 3D sensing time-of-flight camera that has been popping up in leaks and rumors for months is also expected to appear on the new phones, according to multiple sources.