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A 5G capable iPhone in 2019 is highly unlikely

The first 5G iPhone will likely get pushed to 2020. (Source: Apple)
The first 5G iPhone will likely get pushed to 2020. (Source: Apple)
Apple could be looking to play the waiting card until Intel gets its 5G modem ready, which implies Qualcomm is being given the slip. We might not be seeing a 5G enabled iPhone in 2019 although Apple is already testing the technology.
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5G New Radio (NR) is the next evolution of mobile communication and the industry has already started to prepare itself to upgrade to the latest standard. Qualcomm has been optimistic of seeing 5G devices rolling off the shelves in 2019. Several US networks such as Sprint and Verizon have already started testing 5G networks in hopes of a wider rollout next year. All said and done, it looks like Apple will not be embracing the new standard in the first wave and will likely wait for the technology to mature. 

Fudzilla did some investigation as to what Apple's plans could be and has come to the conclusion that Apple is unlikely to ready a 5G capable iPhone by 2019. This is being mainly attributed to two reasons — one being that most markets are not yet ready for a transition to 5G and the other more important reason being Intel is not expected to have its XMM 8000 5G NR modem ready for mass deployment before Qualcomm's Snapdragon X50. With the first wave of 5G NR networks expected to be ready in 2019 in the US and Korea, Samsung (and probably LG) could be the first to have their phones equipped with 5G modems.

5G NR is expected to have pan-global rollout in 2020-21 and this is the timeframe Apple is looking to equip its smartphones with the new standard. Apple would not be keen on sourcing 5G modems from Qualcomm given the ongoing legal tussle and Intel right now looks to be the best bet for the company, although, Huawei is also in the race to build 5G chips.

This is not to say that 5G isn't in Apple's purview right now. The Cupertino giant is actively testing 5G NR and is even recruiting new manpower for the same. It is also a part of the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) alliance and owns several patents on the 5G NR standard. Similar to how it adopted facial recognition and OLED technology, Apple would wait and watch the technology to mature further before incorporating it into consumer devices such as the iPhone.

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Vaidyanathan Subramaniam
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam - Managing Editor - 1358 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2012
Though a cell and molecular biologist by training, I have been drawn towards computers from a very young age ever since I got my first PC in 1998. My passion for technology grew quite exponentially with the times, and it has been an incredible experience from being a much solicited source for tech advice and troubleshooting among family and friends to joining Notebookcheck in 2017 as a professional tech journalist. Now, I am a Lead Editor at Notebookcheck covering news and reviews encompassing a wide gamut of the technology landscape for Indian and global audiences. When I am not hunting for the next big story or taking complex measurements for reviews, you can find me unwinding to a nice read, listening to some soulful music, or trying out a new game.
contact me via: @Geeky_Vaidy
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2018 03 > A 5G capable iPhone in 2019 is highly unlikely
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam, 2018-03- 4 (Update: 2018-03- 5)