It’s already pretty much guaranteed that Apple will be entering the 5G race next year with its entire 2020 iPhone lineup, and now it turns out that the company isn’t planning on cutting corners here either, but will actually be going all-in on 5G in a pretty big way.
A new report out of the Asian supply chain not only confirms the earlier rumours that Apple will be launching all three of its mainstream 2020 iPhone models with full 5G support, but adds that all of them will include the most advanced 5G modem chip that Qualcomm currently makes.
We’ve known for a while that Qualcomm is ahead of the curve when it comes to 5G modem technology, and after struggling to keep up, Intel eventually threw in the towel, forcing Apple to settle its longstanding feud with Qualcomm in order to guarantee that it would be able to have a 5G iPhone ready for next year.
While Apple clearly doesn’t plan to rely on Qualcomm for longer than it has to — the company has gobbled up the wreckage of Intel’s 5G business, and the latest reports suggest it could have its own first-party 5G modem chip ready by 2022 — for now at least it knows that it has to use the best technology that’s available if it’s going to make a big entry onto faster 5G cellular networks, and that’s Qualcomm’s second-generation Snapdragon X55.
According to Nikki Asian Review, all three of Apple’s 2020 iPhones — presumably the direct successors to the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max — will not only sport 5G, but will all include the Snapdragon X55.
Qualcomm actually announced this chip back in February, and unlike the first-generation 5G chips, which consume more power and require larger antennas, thereby necessitating bulkier smartphones, the X55 uses features that make it more power efficient, which means Apple won’t have to compromise on battery life in its 5G iPhones, and features an adaptive antenna array technology that should allow it to get reliable signal quality with more compact antenna arrays.
That’s not all, however. The X55 also promises peak speeds of 7GB/s when downloading, and 3GB/s when uploading, although of course these are theoretical maximums that will undoubtedly be hampered by carrier networks. Still, even if users can get only a fraction of those speeds in practice, that will still run circles around current LTE technologies, and give many home broadband connections a run for their money.
Of course, the bigger question is what carriers will charge for this. Some carriers like AT&T have already made comments about tiered 5G charges, suggesting that getting into the 5G fast lane could carry a premium, and it’s doubtful we’ll see the kind of high or unlimited data caps that are currently available on traditional broadband home networks, so don’t expect to be replacing your home fibre connection with 5G anytime soon.
Although U.S. carriers have been slow to roll out 5G — one reason why Apple hasn’t been in a hurry to adopt the technology — there’s also the suggestion that the release of the 5G iPhone lineup could spur AT&T and Verizon to accelerate the process, in much the same way as Apple Pay pushed the adoption of contactless NFC payments in the U.S.
The Nikkei report also backs up earlier rumours we’ve heard that next year’s iPhones will represent a big swing back into record sales for Apple, with pent-up demand for 5G boosting sales upwards of 80 million units.