Analyst: Apple to launch sub-6GHz 5G iPhones this year, but faster mmWave 5G iPhones delayed until 2021

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In Ming-Chi Kuo’s most recent report, the analyst said Apple is looking to launch four 5G-compatible iPhone models in 2020 but would not be drawn on their exact specification. The two competing standards for 5G work on either mmWave and sub-6 GHz spectrum, and devices can support one or the other, or both.

A report today from analysts at Susquehanna claims that Apple will only launch sub-6 GHz compatible 5G phones in 2020. mmWave models may not be available until 2021 in small volumes.

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Different carriers around the world are rolling out sub-6GHz and millimeter wave (mmWave) in various deployments and timelines. In general, mmWave is the one with the eye-popping throughput speeds, potentially exceeding 1 Gbps.

However, its range is much smaller, which means carriers have to set up a lot of cell towers to make it available to users. In comparison, current sub-6GHz rollouts in the United States typically achieve speeds in the 100-150 Mbps range.

The Susquehanna analyst estimates Apple will ship about 60 million 5G iPhones in the second half of 2020, with about 8 million mmWave compatible handsets available by January. Apple has apparently decided to design its own antenna-in-package module, rather than use one readily available on the market, contributing to the staggered delay.

In the aforementioned Kuo report, the respected analyst noted that Apple may ship mmWave iPhones in select markets only. It also raised the possibility of Apple using universal Qualcomm modems in all models, but disabling some bands in software for each region. This would depend on how widespread 5G is available in each geographic segment, and apparently Apple can save money by disabling it in software when it is not needed.

Apple is generally expected to launch four 5G iPhone models this year; Kuo said all four iPhones would sport OLED displays from 5.4 to 6.7 inches. Today’s report from Susquehanna says that they believe one of the sub-6 GHz 5G iPhones will keep the LCD display.

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