Apple's 2020 5G iPhones to Support Both Sub-6GHz and mmWave, But That Might Change in 2021

Apple's 2020 iPhone lineup will feature 5G support for the first time, and several rumors have suggested that the new iPhones coming this year are expected to support both sub-6GHz and mmWave networks, which are two different 5G technologies that carriers are rolling out.

iPhone 12 5G New 1
mmWave, the fastest 5G technology, will be used in dense urban areas like major cities, while sub-6GHz networks will be available more broadly in suburban and urban areas. Sub-6GHz technology is faster than 4G, but not as fast as mmWave and not responsible for some of the blazing fast speeds advertised when companies talk about 5G technology.

DigiTimes is out today with a new preliminary report that indicates all 2020 iPhones will feature support for mmWave and sub-6GHz networks, but suggests Apple will take a different approach in 2021.

Some of the 2021 ‌iPhone‌ models may feature single 5G band support, working on either mmWave or sub-6GHz networks, but not both.

Apple's 2020 series of iPhones will work on both sub-6GHz and millimeter wave 5G networks, and the vendor is considering introducing its iPhones supporting either mmWave or sub-6GHz for specific markets next year, according to industry sources in Taiwan.

The iPhones with limited support would be introduced in specific markets where one technology is more predominantly used than the other. Some countries, for example, will not have support for mmWave networks, which makes the inclusion of mmWave support less important and could cut down on modem costs for future iPhones.

There have been some 2020 iPhone rumors, including from reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, that have suggested Apple's ‌iPhone‌ 12 lineup will also feature devices that may not have mmWave support enabled in some countries.

All of the 2020 iPhones are expected to have the same modem hardware that supports all 5G bands, but Apple could disable mmWave in countries where it is not operational or turn off 5G entirely in countries without 5G networks to reduce its production costs as antennas are required to work with the modem hardware.

DigiTimes' report suggests that the 2021 iPhones could perhaps have different hardware that only supports one network, rather than Apple disabling hardware, but we'll have to wait to see what happens with the 2020 iPhones to get a better picture of what we can expect for the 2021 ‌iPhone‌ lineup as the rumors about which iPhones will support which networks are somewhat confusing at this time.

‌DigiTimes‌' report today is a preliminary report and it will be updated with more information in the future, and if there's more detail to include, we'll update this article. For more on what to expect from the 2020 ‌iPhone‌ lineup, make sure to check out our iPhone 12 roundup.

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Top Rated Comments

JPack Avatar
51 months ago
Makes sense from a technical and cost perspective. mmWave is only peddled in the U.S. due to lack of sub-6 frequencies. For the rest of the world, sub-6 has been widely deployed and is the sweet spot between speed and penetration.

Look at this image from the Defense Innovation Board where red represents 1 Gbps.

Left = mmWave | Right = sub-6



Attachment Image
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Analog Kid Avatar
51 months ago
Just suggesting a mmWave only phone leads me to significantly downweight this rumor...
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mr. Dee Avatar
51 months ago
I am kinda so over this 5G hype, sure Apple might be the Kickstarter here, but with all that’s going on, I serious don’t see this being a priority around the world right now. But I looking forward to the Apple show in September.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
one more Avatar
51 months ago
By the time 5G is adequately rolled out worldwide, it might easily be 2025-2030, so I would not worry about band subtleties at all at this point.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
apparatchik Avatar
51 months ago
I will be upgrading this year (currently sporting a XR), and If I could, I would choose a 2020 iPhone without any kind of 5G support, I would actively push for a non-5G iPhone 12 with the most advanced and power efficient LTE modem available, with 5G, the network support is patchy, the modem energy consumption is higher, and there are even still doubts about safety, etc. I dont want my phone to be switching back and forth between 5G and 4G as I move within the city... there are no scenarios were LTE+ is insufficient for my needs, 5G, please keep it, mm wave, sub-6ghz or otherwise.

5G is said to open new possibilities in the IoT realm, smart appliances, self-driving vehicles, etc. Thats fantastic, let them have it. Now, why do we need 5G on our phones? what would we achieve by going from a steady 200-300Mbps lte+ connection to a patchy, highly variable, ~900Mbps one? fast app downloads, 4k streaming, etc are all possible with a 100Mbps connection, also, on the tiny screen of a smartphone, while commuting, is the difference between a 4k stream and a 1080 one meaningful? All of this with out touching data caps/allowances.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
triangletechie Avatar
51 months ago
I just ran a speed test using LTE on my 11 Pro and got 123 mbps down. I'm not sure I will ever personally need 5G.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)