The Intel XMM 8100 5G modem

2019 is the year of the 5G phone, at least from companies like Samsung and LG. But rumor has it that Apple won’t be jumping on the bandwagon until 2020.

That “delay” may give Apple plenty of time to work on the upcoming device, and, more importantly, let the network technology mature. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean Apple will have the parts to launch the device. At least, that’s the report out of Bloomberg on Tuesday based on a new analyst report from Cowen. According to the publication, Apple may still “struggle to get the necessary components to build the product”, even when 2020 rolls around.

Apple is waiting for 2020, which is probably a good decision on its part. However, that delay might be a reality based on other companies, too. Specifically, Intel. That company recently unveiled its 5G modem, but it won’t be ready for smartphones until 2020. That lines up with Apple’s rumored plans, but this report suggests Intel might not be able to fulfill all the orders Apple will need. What’s more, and probably worse, Apple’s reliance on Intel may lead to less-than-optimal 5G modems that don’t support mmWave technology.

“Apple’s first option, Cowen wrote, is to “launch 18 months after 5G competition with an inferior modem from Intel likely without mmWave capabilities,” referring to the band of spectrum that can be used for 5G’s high-speed wireless communications.”

The analysts believe that Apple may have to reach out to Samsung to help supplement additional orders. However, those same analysts believe Samsung and Apple probably couldn’t come to agreeable terms, so that might not be an option, either. Of course, we can’t forget about Qualcomm here — but Apple and Qualcomm’s legal battle just settled into a lengthy court battle, so that is definitely a toss-up at this point.

If Apple is waiting for 2020, that isn’t a bad thing. Namely because it means that the 5G rollout from wireless carriers can actually take place, and by the time the 5G iPhone arrives people will be able to access 5G on a broad basis. However, if Apple’s 5G capabilities are going to be similar to what we’re seeing in early 2019 — basically: limited — then that is not a good look for Apple at all.

Apple is rumored to be working on its own modems for future devices, but it’s not likely that will help the company in 2020.

[via Bloomberg]

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