Analyst Believes Apple Might Delay Launch of Select 5G iPhones Until Early 2021

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A new investors note from investment group Susquehanna claims that while Apple will launch 5G iPhones in September, selected models will see a delayed launch in December 2020 or January 2021.

The report claims that while Apple will announce all 5G iPhones at the same time, the mmWave variant will launch after a few months towards the end of the year or in early 2021. The delay stems from the fact that Apple is looking to develop Antenna-in-Package (AiP) modules in-house instead of simply sourcing it from third-party vendors.

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

Right now, there are two major 5G standards: sub-6GHz and mmWave. Almost all major operators of the world are deploying 5G on the sub-6GHz band except for those in the US. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile will roll out 5G on the mmWave frequency. While rolling out 5G on the sub-6GHz frequency is easier, the majority of the speed gains that 5G promises will come from the mmWave frequency. However, the latter has a lot of limitations as it cannot easily penetrate walls (or even trees) and requires a lot more nodes/network towers for deployment.

The sub-6GHz iPhones which will launch first will come with LCD displays, with only the models launching latter featuring superior OLED panels. The investment group expects Apple to ship around 60 million 5G iPhones in the second hand of 2020. This will comprise of about 52 million sub-6GHz iPhones and 8 million iPhones with mmWave.

Our Take

Depending on the market, Apple is likely to launch iPhones with either mmWave or sub-6GHz support. Right now, there are no phones that support 5G on both frequencies, though upcoming flagship Android devices like the Galaxy S11 might change that as they will make use of Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon X55 modem which supports 5G networks.

It is also entirely possible that Apple simply ends up launching iPhones with sub-6GHz and skips mmWave support. This way, it can claim that all iPhones offer 5G and it won’t have to delay their launch as well. This, however, depends on the rollout of mmWave 5G from U.S. operators which as of now is limited to few pockets in major cities.

[Via StreetInsider]