Shipments of mmWave 5G iPhones Could Be Much Weaker Than Expected This Year

The latest shipment estimates for Apple's upcoming mmWave-enabled 5G iPhones are several million units lower than previously expected, which is intensifying competition among suppliers of AiP substrates, reports DigiTimes.

iPhone 12 5G New 1

Shipments of mmWave-enabled 5G iPhones slated for launch later this year are estimated to reach only 15-20 million units in 2020 compared to a previous supply chain estimate of 30-40 million units, intensifying competition among Apple's suppliers of FC-AiP substrates for the new phones, according to industry sources.

Apple is believed to be designing its own antenna-in-package or "AiP" module for mmWave iPhones, which use a set of 5G frequencies that promise ultra-fast speeds at short distances, making it best suited for dense urban areas. By contrast, sub-6GHz 5G is generally slower than mmWave, but the signals travel further, better serving suburban and rural areas.

According to DigiTimes, Apple's AIP package is more cost-effective than previous designs, but some analysts believe that models with support for ultra-fast mmWave technology will likely launch after sub-6GHz models due to production challenges and the global health crisis. To counter these challenges, Apple has diversified its supply chain for the modules to minimize risk.

The upcoming mmWave 5G iPhones will adopt more cost-effective FC-AiP process, with ASE Technology to package AiP modules, the sources said. But Apple reportedly has finalized three suppliers of BT-based FC-AiP substrates, including one based in Taiwan and two in South Korea, and they will together supply 30-50 million substrates, the sources said, adding one iPhone will require 2-3 AiP modules.

Prior to the global health crisis, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple was still on track to release both sub-6GHz and sub-6GHz-plus-mmWave "iPhone 12" models simultaneously in the second half of 2020, with shipments beginning in the late third quarter or early fourth quarter.

Kuo has not indicated whether those plans have since changed, but other analysts have said they believe the mmWave iPhones may not arrive this year because Apple's custom antenna-in-package is proving to be more of a battery drain than the company would like.

Kuo has said 5G iPhone models with mmWave would be available in five markets, including the United States, Canada, Japan, Korea, and the United Kingdom. He also believes Apple may disable 5G functionality in countries that do not offer 5G service or have a shallow 5G penetration rate to reduce production costs.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12
Buyer's Guide: iPhone 12 (Buy Now)

Top Rated Comments

BvizioN Avatar
22 weeks ago


Apple was sued in Australia (and other countries) as a result of advertising that it has 4G but 4G was in its infancy at that time

It is true, but it is mind-boggling that people do get away with such a stupid lawsuit. It is like people buying Tesla electric cars to use them in areas where the charging infrastructure is not in place and suing Tesla for advertising cars as electric! Nothing short of stupidity!!
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BvizioN Avatar
22 weeks ago


I recently traded for an S20+, and wouldn't go back.

"Recently" is the keyword here. Give it a few months. or a year and see how you feel about it.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Brian Y Avatar
22 weeks ago


I don't see this iPhone being a hit. I think people are getting iPhone fatigue. The enthusiast who knows what 120Hz is or what LiDar is (I don't) will want it, but the average guy who doesn't know what these features are won't care.

We're in the age of corona, riots, and Trump. Long lines that wrap the corner block and the untempered excitement people once had for the latest and greatest iPhone seems so yesterday...

I mean, they'll still sell them by the millions, but quite a few people are going the same way I did - having owned pretty much every iPhone since the original launch day back in 2007, I recently traded for an S20+, and wouldn't go back.

It'll be interesting to see how they handle the 5G launch. They buggered up 4G in quite a few places - e.g. launching "4G" models in Aus with no 4G network, launching the 4G iPhone 5 in the UK with support for only 1 4G network.

I'm assuming they'll go the way other manufacturers have, having 4G, 5G sub-6 and 5G mmwave models, depending on the market. There's zero point putting mmwave devices out in the UK at the moment, for example, since no network currently has plans (or spectrum) to support it. Heck, outside of Italy, I don't think any country in Europe has even allcated mmwave spectrum yet.

That's pretty much what Samsung do. My UK purchased S20+ 5G doesn't support mmwave - do I really care? Nope. By the time mmwave is actually in use in the UK I doubt i'll still have it. IMO, outside of densely populated cities, mmwave isn't really needed anyway. On sub-6, I've managed to hit 350mbps indoors on EE, and consistently get speeds well over 100mbps. That's absolutely plenty for a mobile phone IMO.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
UltimaKilo Avatar
22 weeks ago
5G support seems like a waste in 2020. They should have pushed back that feature to fall 2021 models when 5G is better deployed (and even then, it likely won’t be until 2022 that its widely available).
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
IIGS User Avatar
22 weeks ago
I suspect I'll upgrade when the new phone comes out.

The 5G is a selling point for me, but the big difference is in the design. The rounded phones are hard for me to keep hold of for one. Second, I just prefer the squared off design.

A new phone every few years is how I "treat" myself, so this is enough for me to make a change from my Xr.

Plus I can sell the Xr and still get a decent amount of money for it.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Reason077 Avatar
22 weeks ago


5G to me seems a bit like curved TV's/3DTV. Pushing the edge of what consumers actually want. They will really need to solve the coverage issue.

5G coverage for me (UK, 3.6Ghz band) is actually much better than expected. Having tried 2 different networks (Three and Vodafone), Three's coverage map shows no 5G at my location, and Vodafone's shows the weakest band of signal. But in reality I actually get 5/5 5G signal strength and excellent, reliable download speeds on both, indoors. It probably helps that I'm on the 5th floor, but even on the street outside at ground level it's still 5/5.

This is with a Huawei mobile MiFi 5G router (E6878).

Vodafone seems to now have excellent 5G coverage throughout East London, pretty much wherever I go. Not quite so much in Central London yet, though, but it falls back seamlessly to 4G of course.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

windows 10

Developer Successfully Virtualizes Windows for Arm on M1 Mac

Friday November 27, 2020 7:16 am PST by
Developer Alexander Graf has successfully virtualized the Arm version of Windows on an M1 Mac, proving that the M1 chip is capable of running Microsoft's operating system (via The 8-Bit). Currently, Macs with the M1 chip do not support Windows and there is no Boot Camp feature as there is on Intel Macs, but support for Windows is a feature that many users would like to see. Using the...
iPhone black friday 20 sale feature

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best iPhone Deals

Friday November 27, 2020 12:56 pm PST by
Black Friday is halfway done, but there are still a few deals to shop for on iPhones at carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile/Sprint. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. AT&T Starting with AT&T, you'll find up to $700 off any iPhone 12 when...
AirPods Pro black friday 20 sale feature 2

Black Friday 2020: AirPods Pro Reach Lowest Price Ever [Updated]

Wednesday November 25, 2020 3:22 pm PST by
Black Friday has kicked off this week, and one of the first major sales for the AirPods Pro is available right now on Walmart. You can find this deal below, along with a few other solid discounts on the regular AirPods. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site...
Apple Watc black friday 20 sale feature

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best Apple Watch Deals [Updated]

Wednesday November 25, 2020 4:01 pm PST by
Black Friday sales have begun on a variety of products, including the Apple Watch. There are quite a few deals across the Apple Watch lineup this year, including one of the lowest price we've ever seen the Apple Watch Series 3. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the...
iphone trade in store

UK Environmental Committee Says Apple Contributing to 'Throwaway Culture' of 'Short-Lived Products'

Thursday November 26, 2020 7:07 am PST by
Technology companies like Apple are contributing to e-waste by making their products difficult to repair, and charging expensive repair fees, according to a lengthy report published today by the UK Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee. "We were told that Apple glues and solders parts together on their laptops, which makes repairing them very difficult," the Committee wrote in a summary ...
MacBooks black friday

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best Mac and MacBook Deals

Thursday November 26, 2020 8:29 pm PST by
For Black Friday 2020, many retailers have solid deals on a variety of Macs. Apple's new M1 Macs are ones everyone wants right now, but because they're so new, deals on them are fairly sparse, although we are seeing some modest discounts. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps...
Top Stories 38 Feature

Top Stories: Black Friday Deals, Redesigned MacBooks, Hands-On With Apple's M1 Macs

Saturday November 28, 2020 6:00 am PST by
With Apple's holiday hardware lineup seemingly all set, attention this week turned to the shopping end of things with Apple and other retailers rolling out their Black Friday deals. That wasn't the only news this week, however, as we've continued to learn more about Apple's new M1-based Macs and we've even heard some fresh rumors about redesigned Mac notebooks coming next year, so read on...
General black friday 20 sale feature 2

Apple Black Friday 2020: Our Top Picks

Friday November 27, 2020 6:16 am PST by
Black Friday shopping has officially kicked off across the United States, and we've been collecting the best deals for Apple's iPads, Macs, AirPods, the HomePod, Apple Watch, and more in separate articles. In order to further streamline your Black Friday shopping this year, we've put together this quick list of our top picks of the overall best Apple-related bargains happening today. Note:...
mac mini macbook pro macbook air

Apple M1 Hands-On Comparison: MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro vs. Mac Mini

Monday November 23, 2020 3:40 pm PST by
Apple's M1 Macs are out in the wild now, but ahead of the holidays, you might still be trying to figure out which one to pick up, either for yourself or as a gift for someone else. We've got all three of the new Macs available, so we thought we'd give MacRumors readers a hands-on overview of each machine in our latest YouTube video. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. ...
General black friday 20 sale feature

Thanksgiving Day Deals Still Available on AirPods, M1 Macs, Apple Watch Series 6, iPads

Thursday November 26, 2020 10:21 am PST by
Black Friday deals seem to start earlier and earlier every year, so there were already a wide variety of discounts available for Apple products on Thanksgiving Day. Many of the deals remain available even after Thanksgiving, but act fast, as inventory quickly fluctuates. Thanksgiving Day Deals on Apple Products — Still Available:AirPods with a wireless charging case remain available for...