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Apple’s fastest iPhone 5G models may not arrive until 2021

Published Jan 6th, 2020 4:47PM EST
iPhone 12 Release
Image: Ray Tang/LNP/Shutterstock

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It’s no secret that Apple this year is planning to introduce a 5G enabled iPhone for the first time. And though other handset manufacturers were able to beat Apple to market with 5G devices, it hasn’t proven to be much of an issue given that 5G coverage still leaves a lot to be desired. By the time Apple introduces the iPhone 5G later this year, it stands to reason that 5G coverage will be significantly more expansive and 5G smartphones will, in turn, be that much more compelling.

While it’s all but assumed that the entirety of Apple’s 2020 iPhone lineup will hit store shelves in September, a new and somewhat sketchy research report from Susquehanna analyst Mehdi Hossein (via CNBC) claims that Apple may stagger the release of its iPhone 5G lineup.

Specifically, Hossein relays that mmWave 5G iPhone models — which would provide faster connectivity than sub-6GHz 5G models — may not start shipping until early 2021.

“The delay in the launch,” Hossein notes, “according to our checks, stems from Apple’s decision to in-source Antenna-in-Package (AiP) modules instead of purchasing from a 3rd party.”

As a quick primer, the 5G standard encompasses two frequency ranges, one that includes sub-6GHz bands and another that supports higher frequency bands and is called mmWave. While mmWave waves do provide faster data speeds, they have some serious drawbacks insofar that they can’t travel far and are easily blocked by walls. T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said as much in a blog post last year:

Some of this is physics – millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum has great potential in terms of speed and capacity, but it doesn’t travel far from the cell site and doesn’t penetrate materials at all. It will never materially scale beyond small pockets of 5G hotspots in dense urban environments.

Given that Apple’s iPhone lineup is already a bit convoluted, it’s hard to imagine Apple releasing two distinct iPhone 5G models just a few months apart. Notably, reputed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo — who tends to have a solid track record with respect to Apple rumors — anticipates Apple will release four 5G iPhone models in 2020.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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