5G iPhone: Coming this Fall, What it Means

by

Cellular connectivity is on the verge of getting a major overhaul with the imminent launch of 5G networks and 5G smartphones.

5G connectivity is much, much faster than 4G LTE, which means we're going to be seeing far faster connection speeds on our devices. 5G technology is coming to both mobile and home networks, and rollouts started happening in 2019 and are continuing in 2020.

5G iPhone Launch Date

Multiple rumors dating back months have confirmed that Apple is going to launch multiple 5G iPhones in 2020, with the 2019 iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max continuing to use LTE.


There were questions about whether Apple would be able to secure 5G chips for its 2020 devices given its dispute with Qualcomm, but that litigation has been cleared up and the road to a 5G iPhone in 2020 is clear.

Apple wasn't prepared to launch 5G iPhones in 2019 and can't afford to wait until 2021 as competitors have already launched 5G smartphones, which makes 2020 Apple's 5G year.

5G Explained

5G is fifth-generation cellular wireless and the successor to 4G. When most people talk about 5G connectivity, they're talking about mmWave, or millimeter wave spectrum.

Millimeter wave technology offers a lot of open bandwidth for blazing fast data transfer speeds, but it is highly sensitive to interference from buildings, trees, and other obstacles, which has prevented it from being taken advantage of by cellular companies who have previously focused on low-band and mid-band spectrums for cellular networks.


Accessing mmWave spectrum has only become possible over the course of the last few years due to technological advancements like Massive MIMO, adaptable beamforming, and miniaturization of complex antenna processing functions.

Not all 5G networks are going to use mmWave technology in all areas because it's best suited to denser urban locations. In rural and suburban areas, 5G technology will be on mid-bands and low-bands, called sub-6GHz 5G. It's still faster than 4G, but not as fast as mmWave.

So when 5G comes out, there will be some areas with mmWave technology where data transfer speeds will be lightning quick, coupled with other areas that are closer to 4G LTE speeds. Over time, low-band and mid-band 5G speeds should also get much quicker, but know that most talk of 5G focuses on the more limited mmWave spectrum.

For more on the differences between mmWave 5G and Sub-6GHz 5G, make sure to check out our dedicated guide on the subject.

5G Benefits

5G is going to provide faster connection speeds on cellular and home internet devices. How much faster remains to be seen because 5G networks are not widespread yet and are just now starting to be built out by carriers in the United States.

As mentioned above, there are also different implementations of 5G that are going to impact how fast a 5G network is, but in a nutshell, it's going to make data connections faster and more robust.

5G Drawbacks

It will take time for 5G technology to roll out, and a lot of the fastest 5G speeds will be limited to major cities as carriers work to build out their networks and upgrade their equipment.

For the first few years after launch, 5G connectivity will be spotty with carriers relying on LTE as a backup. Early 5G devices will eat up a lot of battery, which is something that will get better with the second-generation 5G chips Apple is likely to use.

U.S. Carriers With 5G Networks

All four of the major carriers in the United States - Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint - are working on 5G technology, and 5G networks have already started rolling out. Other carriers around the world are also developing 5G networks. All of the U.S. carriers are promising maximum connectivity speeds 10 to 20 times faster than LTE.

Verizon - Verizon has launched its 5G LTE network in areas in Atlanta, Boise, Chicago, Denver, Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, New York, Omaha, Panama City, Phoenix, Providence, St. Paul, and Washington, DC., with plans to expand to additional cities in the future. Verizon is focusing heavily on mmWave spectrum.

AT&T - AT&T is confusingly labeling its 5G networks in multiple ways, calling its upgraded 4G LTE "5GE" and its mmWave coverage "5G+." 5G+ is AT&T's real, actual 5G mmWave network, and it is available in select areas in cities that include Los Angeles, Orlando, Atlanta, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Austin, and more.

T-Mobile - T-Mobile (which is also now Sprint) is taking a practical approach to 5G and is focusing on the 600MHz spectrum first, because that's what most customers will connect to. As mentioned up above, this spectrum is faster than LTE but slower than mmWave, and will provide better coverage. T-Mobile rolled out its 5G network in summer 2020.

Apple's Chip Partner - Qualcomm

Apple was originally planning to use Intel chips in its 2020 5G iPhones, but Intel is out of the smartphone chip business and Apple has no choice but to use Qualcomm's modem chips.


Qualcomm has already released one 5G chip, the X50, and is working on a second, the X55. Qualcomm's X55 chip became available in 2019 and it's likely the chip that Apple is going to use in its 2020 ‌iPhone‌ lineup.

The X55 offers 7Gb/s peak download speeds and 3Gb/s upload speeds, though these numbers are theoretical maximums and actual speeds will depend on carrier network. This chip is Qualcomm's first 5G chip that supports all major frequency bands, operation modes, and network deployments.

The X55 is also more power efficient than Qualcomm's X50 chip, which means it will draw less energy and will have less of an impact on battery life when connected to a 5G network.

2020 iPhone Rumors

Apple is rumored to be planning to introduce four iPhones in 2020, with three display sizes: 5.4 inches, 6.1 inches (two devices), and 6.7 inches. Rumors suggest all four will use OLED displays, and current information also indicates all of the iPhones coming in 2020 will be equipped with 5G chips to take advantage of 5G networks.

The new iPhones are expected to be introduced in October, with a delay of a few weeks due to the ongoing global health crisis.

For more on what to expect when it comes to the 2020 iPhones, make sure to check out our iPhone 12 roundup.

Guide Feedback

Have questions about the 5G ‌iPhone‌ or want to offer feedback on this guide? Send us an email here.

Related Articles

AT&T Already Working on 6G, Says 5G iPhones Might Not Be 'Massive Event' Due to Economic Uncertainty

Monday September 21, 2020 10:05 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming launch of 5G iPhones might not be a "massive event" due to economic uncertainty amid the global health crisis, AT&T Communications CEO Jeff McElfresh said in a paywalled interview published by CNBC. "I do believe that you will see many of the iPhone subscribers move to upgrade to the device," said McElfresh. "But I wouldn't forecast that it's going to be a massive event. I...

Apple's AirPods Pro Tech Could Lead to Larger Capacity Batteries in 5G iPhones

Tuesday August 25, 2020 3:00 am PDT by
Future 5G iPhone models could feature larger capacity batteries or more compact battery modules than those found in existing handsets, thanks to Apple's adoption of key integrative technologies first seen in the company's AirPods Pro wireless headphones. DigiTimes today reports that Apple is looking to move towards the combined use of system-in-package (SiP) and flexible printed circuit...

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

Monday July 20, 2020 10:04 am PDT by
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. mmWave, the fastest 5G technology, will be used in dense urban areas like major cities, while sub-6GHz networks will be...

DigiTimes Claims 2020 iPhones Will Use Qualcomm X60 Modem, Despite Previous Rumors Agreeing on X55

Thursday June 18, 2020 9:57 am PDT by
Apple is widely expected to release its first 5G iPhones later this year, and multiple sources have indicated that these models will be equipped with Qualcomm's Snapdragon X55 modem, including analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and the Nikkei Asian Review. To the contrary, a paywalled snippet from DigiTimes today claims that Apple's chipmaking partner TSMC will begin manufacturing A14 chips and Snapdragon ...

Kuo: mmWave 5G iPhones Have 'Potential Delay Risk,' Production on 6.7-Inch iPhone Delayed to October

Tuesday April 21, 2020 9:32 am PDT by
Some of Apple's upcoming 5G iPhones could see a delay in production, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in a note shared with investors. mmWave models, which will feature the fastest 5G functionality, have a "potential delay risk" and may launch outside of the normal timeline. Production on the mmWave iPhone may be pushed back because of changes to the antenna package that were made in...

More Analysts Expect mmWave iPhones to Launch Later Than Sub-6GHz Models

Friday April 17, 2020 6:58 am PDT by
Apple is expected to unveil its first 5G-enabled iPhones in September, 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. Apple is believed to be designing its own antenna-in-package or "AiP" module for mmWave iPhones, potentially contributing to the staggered...

Qualcomm Introduces Snapdragon X60, Smaller 5G Modem Suitable for 2021 iPhones

Wednesday February 19, 2020 9:00 am PST by
Qualcomm this week introduced the Snapdragon X60, its third-generation 5G modem for mobile devices. The company says the first 5G smartphones featuring the X60 are expected to launch early next year. Built on a 5nm process, the X60 packs higher power efficiency into a smaller footprint compared to its 7nm-based predecessor, the Snapdragon X55. In the context of an iPhone, this could allow...

Apple Designing 5G iPhone Antenna Module In-House After Being Dissatisfied With Qualcomm's Version

Friday February 14, 2020 11:41 am PST by
Apple is designing the antenna module that will be used in its 5G iPhones in-house because it was unhappy with the version that Qualcomm designed, reports Fast Company, citing a source with knowledge of Apple's plans. Apple reportedly "balked" at the design of the QTM 525 5G millimeter-wave antenna module offered by Qualcomm because it "doesn't fit into the sleek industrial design Apple wants...

Apple CEO Tim Cook on 5G: 'We're Excited About Our Pipeline'

Tuesday January 28, 2020 1:48 pm PST by
During today's earnings call covering the first fiscal quarter of 2020, Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked about 5G, and how much of a demand driver it might be for Apple. Cook of course said that he wouldn't comment on future Apple products with respect to 5G, but said 5G is in the "early innings of its deployment on a global basis." Cook went on to say that Apple "couldn't be prouder" of its ...

FCC Opens Up 3.5GHz Spectrum for Full Commercial Use, Apple's Newest iPhones Already Offer Support

Monday January 27, 2020 12:14 pm PST by
The United States Federal Communications Commission today cleared the way for OnGo [PDF], a wireless product spearheaded by the Citizens Broadcast Radio Service Alliance (CBRS) that aims to use the 3.5GHz band for a range of applications, including improving data speeds and connectivity across the United States on both 4G and 5G networks. The CBRS Alliance announced that the FCC has allowed...

Apple Supplier Shrinks Down Capacitors Needed for 5G iPhone, Freeing Up Valuable Internal Space

Wednesday December 4, 2019 8:15 am PST by
Apple is planning to implement 5G technology in all of the iPhones coming in 2020, and Apple's suppliers are gearing up for the transition. One supplier, Murata Manufacturing, recently developed an "ultrasmall" version of a key electronic component, which will allow Apple to free up a bit of valuable space in its 5G iPhones. According to Japanese news site Nikkei, Murata Manufacturing is set...

T-Mobile Launches 600MHz 5G Network Across United States

Monday December 2, 2019 8:59 am PST by
T-Mobile today announced that its 600MHz 5G network has gone live across the United States, bringing 5G connectivity to those who have a compatible smartphone. According to T-Mobile, its 5G network covers more than 200 million people and more than 1 million square miles, though connectivity is limited to the OnePlus 7T 5G McLaren and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G, both of which are launching...

Apple Expected to Lead 5G Smartphone Shipments in 2020

Thursday November 14, 2019 11:50 am PST by
Though Apple has not yet come out with a 5G iPhone, the company is expected to lead the 5G smartphone market in 2020, according to a new report today from analytics firm Strategy Analytics. Apple is expected to capture a dominant share of the emerging 5G market in 2020, following the launch of 5G iPhones. Strategy Analytics believes that Apple simply needs to match its current upgrade rates to ...

Report: Apple to Use Qualcomm's X55 5G Modem in All Three 2020 iPhones

Wednesday October 30, 2019 3:57 am PDT by
Apple's 2020 iPhones will all use Qualcomm's newest and fastest 5G-capable modem chip, claims a new report out of Asia today. Apple is expected to launch three iPhones next year in 5.4-inch, 6.1-inch, and 6.7-inch sizes. According to Nikkei Asian Review, all three will carry the 5G modem chip designed by Qualcomm called the X55. All three of the new iPhones will carry the most advanced 5G ...

Kuo: All Three iPhones Coming in 2020 Will Support 5G

Sunday July 28, 2019 10:28 am PDT by
The three iPhones expected to launch in 2020 will feature support for 5G, according to a new note to investors shared today by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and obtained by MacRumors. Kuo originally said that two of the three new iPhones coming in 2020 will support 5G, but now believes that Apple will offer 5G in all models to better compete with lower-cost Android smartphones that will support...

Testing 5G: What 5G Speeds Will Be Like When the 2020 iPhones Launch

Thursday July 25, 2019 11:31 am PDT by
Apple isn't planning to launch a 5G iPhone until 2020, but carriers in the United States and other smartphone manufacturers like Samsung are already testing 5G, which offers download speeds that are much faster than 4G. Verizon invited MacRumors to Chicago to test its 5G network, giving us an idea of what 5G speeds will be like when we can use 5G networks on our iPhones in 2020. Subscribe ...

Kuo on 2020 iPhones: 5.4-Inch and 6.7-Inch Models With 5G, 6.1-Inch Model With LTE, All With OLED Displays

Monday June 17, 2019 6:13 am PDT by
Apple plans to release three new iPhones in the second half of 2020, including high-end 5.4-inch and 6.7-inch models with OLED displays and a lower-end 6.1-inch model with an OLED display, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Those display sizes line up with a DigiTimes report from a few months ago. In a research note obtained by MacRumors today, Kuo said the 5.4-inch and 6.7-inch models will...

Apple in Talks to Purchase Intel's German Modem Unit

Tuesday June 11, 2019 4:05 pm PDT by
Apple is in talks to buy Intel's German modem unit, which could help Apple develop its own modem chips more quickly, reports The Information. Intel is considering selling its modem business in pieces, and this is not the first time we've heard word that Apple's interested in a purchase. Back in April, The Wall Street Journal said that Apple had held discussions with Intel about acquiring parts ...

Sprint Launches Mobile 5G Network in Four U.S. Cities

Thursday May 30, 2019 9:36 am PDT by
Sprint today announced the initial launch of its mobile 5G network, bringing 5G connectivity to Sprint customers in areas of Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Kansas City. Over the course of the next few weeks, Sprint expects to expand 5G availability to areas of Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington D.C. At the foundation of Sprint 5G is Massive MIMO, a...

EE to Launch 5G in the United Kingdom on May 30

Wednesday May 22, 2019 1:45 am PDT by
Mobile network EE has announced it will launch 5G in the United Kingdom on May 30, beating rival Vodafone's 5G offering which launches in early July. At a London press event this morning, EE revealed that the new 5G service will run alongside 4G. EE also confirmed that it won't be throttling its 4G service to make the 5G look faster. Marc Allera, chief executive of EE, said its 5G radio...