One of the key highlights of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro lineup is 5G support. Apple talked in length about how 5G will further improve the smartphone usage experience and how it will allow for download speeds of up to 4Gbps. However, what Apple did not mention in its event is that these speeds will only be possible on the iPhone 12 variants sold in the United States.
Apple is only selling the mmWave variant of the iPhone 12 lineup in the United States. This can be confirmed from the specs page of the new iPhones on Apple’s website. Additionally, mmWave 5G iPhone 12 models have a plastic window on their chassis to help with network reception which is also exclusive to the U.S. variants. Apple notes that the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro series support the highest number of 5G frequency band.
It is interesting to see Apple keep the mmWave 5G iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro exclusive to the United States despite mmWave 5G being rolled out in South Korea, Japan, and a few other countries.
mmWave 5G is capable of delivering gigabit+ speeds on mobile phones, but its signal has low penetration power and it can be easily blocked by trees, walls, and other objects. iPhone 12 models sold outside the United States will only support sub-6GHz 5G networks which are easier and cheaper deploy but are not capable of offering the same speeds as mmWave networks.
In the United States, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are also compatible with Verizon’s mmWave 5G network which is currently available across 55 cities. While T-Mobile is also rolling out 5G over mmWave, it is primarily using the sub-6GHz frequency for nationwide 5G as it allows for rapid deployment.
All iPhone 12 models also feature Smart Data mode which allows the phones to automatically switch between 4G and 5G networks depending on the bandwidth required by the application being used.