iPhone 5G: Why You Might Not Want to Hold Your Breath on This Upgrade 

The wait may be long. 

by James Dennin

Smartphones capable of connecting to the next generation mobile browsing standard, known as 5G, have already hit the market (sort of): A 5G-enabled Moto Z3 launched exclusively with Verizon on August 16. There were of course a few caveats, carriers had to finish rolling 5G out in select cities and you’ll need a special attachment for the Moto Z3 to live up to its 5G capabilities.

Perhaps it’s because of those caveats that Apple doesn’t appear to be in any sort of rush to get their own 5G-enabled phones to market. Bloomberg reported on Monday that the company plans to hold off until 2020 “at least” before rolling out their own 5G-compatible handset.

This isn’t the first time that Apple has decided to hold off on shipping phones with the latest in mobile browsing, when carriers rolled out 3G and 4G it waited until the following year. But many expected a 5G iPhone would be more forthcoming, Samsung has already begun testing early 5G networks in Korea, for example, and announced on Monday that it would also be partnering with Verizon to develop yet another 5G-focused smartphone.

The Moto Z3 modular phone rolled out in August with plans for a 5G-enabling attachment. 


There’s a few explanations for Apple’s lack of urgency. When a new mobile browsing standard rolls out, there are often connectivity problems and holes in the coverage. By sitting 5G’s first year out, Apple can ensure that all of these problems beset the handsets of its rivals. If you’re used to using iOS and Apple’s other operating systems, then it’s unlikely that marginally faster load times are going to be enough to prompt you to make a switch.

Then again, 5G isn’t supposed to make browsing the web on your smartphone “marginally” faster. According to early estimates, 5G is expected to be about 1,000 times faster than its predecessor, and five times more responsive. A movie or file that would have taken minutes to download will be able to load in seconds.

There’s been some speculation that part of the decision might have to do with Apple’s recent break-up with Qualcomm, the chips manufacturer that’s a leader in 5G enabled chips. The two companies finally parted ways after a litany of royalty and leadership disputes, according to remarks Qualcomm’s CEO made during a summer earnings call which indicated future iPhones will not feature any Qualcomm chips.

That gives Apple fewer options for sourcing the internal components for its 5G-enabled phones.

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