5G Connectivity Coming to iPhone in 2020

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| News

iPhone users in the US can look forward to having 5G connectivity sometime in 2020, according to Fast Company. Citing unnamed sources, the magazine reported that Apple will use Intel’s 8161 modem chip to make the move to 5G, but not until 2020.

The article also focused on friction between Apple and Intel relating to overheating issues in prototypes of this new chip. From the article:

Apple plans to use Intel’s 8161 5G modem chip in its 2020 phones. Intel hopes to fabricate the 8161 using its 10-nanometer process, which increases transistor density for more speed and efficiency. If everything goes as planned, Intel will be the sole provider of iPhone modems.

Carriers and 5G

US mobile carriers such as Verizon and AT&T will use millimeter-wave spectrum between 28GHz and 39 GHz to achieve 5G speeds. Doing this puts chips and RF chains under a lot of strain. This workload causes increased temperatures inside the phone that can be felt on the outside of the device.

Furthermore, Apple has held conversations with an alternative chipmaker, MediaTek, who is also developing a 5G modem chip. MediaTek chips are not normally used in top-end phones like the iPhone.

We can expect to see a number of non-Apple 5G phones demonstrated at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February next year. The standard for 5G was only finalized this year and will remain limited. When deployed, users will get download speeds up to multiple gigabits-per-second.

Apple has historically waited until new wireless protocols have been fully deployed, tested, and perfected before embracing them in iPhone. Apple’s competitors, on the other hand, tend to battle to be first with the new wireless standards, often generating Apple-is-doomed predictions in the process.

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