Apple is preparing to adopt a new technology that could eventually pave the way for 5G iPads and iPhones within the next couple of years.
The next-generation tech is a component called an LCP soft board, which uses a type of liquid crystal polymer to connect a device’s wireless antennas to its logic board.
According to TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via EDN), these LCP soft boards will first appear on two new iPad Pro models which are slated to enter mass production in the fourth quarter of 2019 or the first quarter of 2020.
As far as benefits, he suggests that they can reduce signal loss and boost overall cellular and network performance.
Those new iPad Pro models will seemingly sport the same general form factor as their 2018 predecessors. Kuo notes that they are expected to sport 11-inch and 12.9-inch displays.
5G iPad Pro Rumors
The use of LCP soft boards hints at larger changes down the road. The soft boards are apparently a flexible way to connect an antenna and a motherboard.
Perhaps more importantly, the new boards are thought to be under development in preparation for 5G modems for the iPad Pro after the rumored next generation.
Kuo, for his part, forecasts that the first batch of 5G-compatible iPad devices, which will also sport LCP soft boards, could debut after 2021.
Kuo notes that the iPad Pro, as a productivity or entertainment platform, often has connection requirements that are “even higher” than smartphones.
The use of LCP soft boards in the new iPad Pro could also pave the way for 5G iPhones, Kuo indicates. After a so-called “test run” of LCP technology in the iPad Pro lineup, the analyst’s research note suggests that Apple’s supply chain partners could start producing those components for a new iPhone in the second half of 2020.
That could be important since the first 5G iPhone is expected to arrive next year. Earlier this week, Kuo issued another investors’ note that suggested Apple may be looking into tapping both Qualcomm and Samsung to produce 5G chips for that device.