23 July 2019
As Android OEMs and wireless carriers are working hard to release the first wave of 5G capable smartphones in 2019, Apple is reported to hold on to its own offering until 2020. The report is coming from Fast Company citing a source familiar with Apple's plans regarding supporting the 5G network connectivity on its hardware devices.
The report mentions that Apple is working with Intel's 8160 5G modems for testing 5G connectivity on the prototypes. It has faced heat dissipation issues so far during the tests which is likely to have made Apple "unhappy" with Intel. It wants the modem supplier to fix the technical issues by the time it gets ready to release a 5G iPhone commercially. This is the reason Apple is most likely to go for Intel's 8161 5G modems when it will announce the first iPhone with 5G connectivity in 2020.
It is said that even though the early 5G testings have not been entirely satisfactory, Apple has no intentions of going back to Qualcomm for modem supplies. It is worth noting that 2018 iPhone lineup is the first time that comes exclusively with Intel modems. Additionally, Apple is claimed to be in talks with MediaTek for the supply of 5G modems but that is more like a "Plan B" if things don't work out with Intel for any reason.
While it might be a little disappointing report for iPhone fans, it is definitely in line with how Apple approaches new and emerging technologies. It is known for waiting until a particular technology matures. It takes pride in delivering the premium and best possible user experience which is something that would not be possible if it started offering new features just because they are new in the market. The release of 5G-enabled Android smartphones will give it an idea of what exactly are the challenges when such devices are used in a real-life scenario. On another hand, the 5G network penetration will still be quite modest in 2019 which means not everyone will have access to the next generation of wireless mobile connectivity.