Report: All three 2020 iPhones will have 5G

We’re likely only a month or so away from Apple unveiling a set of 2019 iPhones, but if you’re expecting to take advantage of the smattering of 5G coverage with iOS this year, you’re set to be disappointed.

The good news is that next year’s batch of iPhones will all have 5G, according to respected Apple analyst Ming Chi-Kuo. Originally, Kuo suggested that just the two more expensive models would get the full 5G treatment, but he’s since revised this to include the more basic model – presumably the 2020 version of the iPhone XR.

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The reasoning for this wider-than-expected 5G range is threefold. Firstly, the acquisition of Intel’s modem business gives the company more resource – although MacRumors says that it’ll continue to use Qualcomm modem chips in its 2020 lineup. Secondly, the analyst reckons that the price of 5G Android phones will have dropped quite significantly, and thirdly “boosting 5G developments could benefit Apple’s AR ecosystem.”

If you’ve researched 5G, however, you’ll know that while it’s a catch-all term, there are actually two tiers: the faster mmWave technology, and the slower sub-6GHz 5G. Apple will apparently be supporting both of these, but Kou notes that the company may prefer to release a cheaper sub-6GHz 5G-only version for markets where mmWave simply isn’t supported. 

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Apple may have the intention to launch the 5G iPhone, which only supports Sub-6GHz, to gain market share by lowering the cost/price for markets which only support Sub-6GHz (e.g., Chinese market),” he wrote. “However, 5G iPhone, which only supports Sub-6GHz and the version which supports mmWave & Sub-6GHz are regarded as different projects even though they share the same form factor design.”

Kuo says that the aforementioned cheaper 5G Android phones are likely to only support Sub-6GHz, and Apple has to offer the faster version as a differentiator, given its premium price point. “But the key is that consumers will think that 5G is the necessary function in 2H20,” he wrote. “Therefore, iPhone models which will be sold at higher prices have to support 5G for winning more subsidies from mobile operators and consumers’ purchase intention.”

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