Apple is reportedly “mobilising its suppliers” to launch its 5G iPhone range in 2020, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.
Apple had launched its latest iPhone devices, namely the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max in September, and heavily touted its camera tech (a wide angle camera, and an ultra wide camera).
But this could not hide the elephant in the room, namely the lack of 5G capability. Samsung’s flagship device, the Galaxy S10, for example already has a 5G version, as have other phone makers such as Huawei.
But now according to Nikkei Asian Review, “Apple is mobilizing suppliers to produce its first ever 5G iPhones next year.”
The three flagship models for 2020 are also reportedly set to include “the most advanced mobile processors available and leading-edge screens.”
Apple plans to ship at least 80 million of the new 5G phones, one of the sources said.
“It will be the first time Apple introduces 5G iPhones … There will be three of them and the company has set an aggressive sales target,” one of the people familiar with the company’s thinking told Nikkei.
All three of the new iPhones will carry the most advanced 5G modem chip, known as X55 that is designed by Qualcomm, four people familiar with the plan told Nikkei. There are concerns that such is the demand for this chip, there could be supply constraints, one person added.
The 2020 iPhones will also feature Apple’s latest-generation processor, known as A14, made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., multiple sources added.
At least two of the three new phones will also have flexible organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays. In addition, Apple is developing a new 3D sensing rear-camera that can sense the environment and detect objects for applications such as augmented reality games, sources said.
Apple has not had an easy time getting its handsets 5G ready.
Apple had been using Intel chips ever since it dropped Qualcomm modems after its bust up with the firm.
But it seems that Apple was never really happy with Intel.
In July 2018 for example it was reported that Apple was considering moving away from using Intel’s 5G modems in future iPhones. It was also reported that Apple was losing confidence in Intel’s ability to hit its deadline for the 5G modems.
In April this year things changed dramatically when Apple and Qualcomm reached a settlement and said they would cease all legal action between the two.
That settlement saw Apple agreeing to make an undisclosed payment to Qualcomm, and to use Qualcomm’s modem chips going forward.
Days later Intel announced it was exiting the 5G modem business altogether.
The decision by Apple and Qualcomm to make up was hardly surprising however.
Apple had wanted to release its first 5G compatible iPhone in 2020, but the iPad maker lost confidence in Intel’s ability to deliver the XMM 8160 5G modem for those 5G smartphones.
Essentially, in order for Intel to deliver huge numbers of those 5G modems in time for a September 2020 iPhone launch, the chip giant had to deliver sample parts to Apple by early summer 2019.
Intel then needed to deliver a finished modem design in early 2020. But Intel had said last November that it only expected to ship the 8160 5G modem in the second half of 2019.
In the end, Apple announced in July that it would purchase Intel’s smartphone modem business, in a deal valued at $1bn (£804m).
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