Apple’s first 5G iPhone is still two years away. That’s according to a new report, which says the iPhone maker won’t be 5G ready until 2020.
That would put Apple a year behind some of its Android rivals which have said they plan to have 5G phones in 2019.
The news, which comes from Fast Company, cites a single source said to have “knowledge of Apple’s plans.”
The report also appears to confirm what has long been another point of speculation: which company will supply 5G modems for the iPhone. That company will be Intel and only Intel, according to Fast Company.
This is notable because in the past Apple has sourced modems from two different companies: Intel and Qualcomm. But Apple unceremoniously dumped Qualcomm earlier this year amid an ongoing legal fight between the two companies.
That leaves Intel as the sole supplier, according to this report. There had previously been speculation Apple was eyeing a deal with MediaTek, the Chinese company, which recently debuted its own 5G chip. But, according to Fast Company, MediaTek is only a “plan B” option for Apple.
Before we get too wrapped up in speculation, it’d be useful to treat this report (and future ones like it) with some skepticism. A report in July suggested that the 2020 iPhone wouldn’t use any wireless chips from Intel at all. (At the time, Intel said its 5G roadmap hadn’t changed.)
Moreover, we only just finished up the release cycle of the 2018 iPhones, so it’s definitely more than a little premature to begin speculating about the iPhones coming in 2020. There’s a lot that can change this far out, and we’re likely to hear a lot more rumors about Apple’s supply chain and what it means for future iPhones over the next two years.
That said, there’s some evidence to back up the 2020 timing for the first 5G iPhone — mainly that it fits the timeline of what we already know about 5G readiness.
Even though we’re just beginning to see carriers commit to 5G networks, we know it will take some time for the technology to be widely available. And, even after the carriers are 5G-ready, phone-makers will need to adopt the modems necessary to make their handsets capable of using them. Though some companies have committed to doing so by 2019, but Apple isn’t one to rush into new technologies just for the sake of being first.
Fast Company’s report also notes that Intel is having some issues with its modems that could negatively impact battery life — an issue Apple likely wants to avoid.
So, given what we know about Apple and the readiness of 5G, 2020 would certainly be the earliest we should expect a 5G iPhone.