There wasn’t much question that this year’s iPhone lineup would include a full collection of 5G-capable models, and Apple didn’t disappoint in this regard, but in the process it also subtly offered a few clues as to exactly what flavour of 5G models will be available.
The big question mark wasn’t whether 5G was coming to the iPhone 12, but rather whether Apple every model would also support the faster mmWave 5G, since analysts and leakers were somewhat divided on that possibility.
Although Apple hasn’t quite said it outright, the introduction of 5G technology to the iPhone by none other than Verizon’s CEO followed by Tim Cook’s emphasis that 5G will be coming to all models pretty much guarantees that mmWave models will be available in the U.S. for Verizon customers, at least. Verizon calls this its “5G Ultra Wideband” network, but at the end of the day this is just its own branding for what is the higher-frequency mmWave 5G.
When presenting the 5G features for the iPhone 12, Arun Mathias, Apple’s VP of Wireless Software Technologies, also basically hinted at this as well, particularly when he also added that the iPhone 12 will offer “the most 5G bands of any smartphone” and there work in more places than any other smartphone.
Speaking directly from Apple’s radio testing chamber, Mathias went on to explain how Apple designed its own custom 5G antennas and radio components, as well as optimizing every layer of the iOS frameworks to maximize battery efficiency. Apple collaborated and tested 5G with over 100 carriers in more than 30 regions to develop the 5G iPhone, noting that under ideal conditions it was able to achieve speeds of up to 3.5Gbps, while also adding that on Verizon’s 5G mmWave network the iPhone 12 could reach 4.0Gbps speeds — again under ideal conditions, of course, although apparently 1Gbps speeds were typical
As predicted in a late-breaking leak last week, Apple is also adding a Smart Data Mode feature that will automatically fall back to using LTE when 5G speeds aren’t required. This will maximize battery life, since there’s no getting away from the fact that 5G requires more power right now than 4G/LTE does.