Yesterday, I began to speak about Apple’s upcoming product refresh event. As a recap, the Cupertino company is likely days away from confirming when the new iPhone, along with a few other updates, will be announced. The likely dates for the event are September 8 or 9.
I explained that the Apple Watch tends to see a model refresh around this time of the year. I also find it likely that a services bundle will be unveiled next month. However, there is no doubt that the iPhone 12, or whatever it may end up being called, will be the product update with most game-changing clout.
Apple to (finally) join 5G party
Apple’s “road to the 5G era” has been rocky. For starters, the company’s key competitors launched their 5G devices first, and took advantage of some early-adopter demand. Samsung, for example, unveiled the Galaxy S10 5G in 2019, and Huawei’s 5G-capable Mate X saw the light of day later that same year.
Apple never seemed too concerned about catching up with its peers, but I wonder what the conversations were like behind closed doors. Early in 2019, rumors began to surface that the 5G-enabled iPhone would not be ready until 2021, which would have been bad news. The COVID-19 crisis and ensuing supply chain disruptions gave credence to the speculations.
Meanwhile, 5G sales seemed to be a pocket of strength in an otherwise mature smartphone industry. In the US, Samsung took advantage of Apple’s absence and now controls over 90% of the 5G market (see chart below). And in areas where Apple desperately needs some top-line traction, particularly in Greater China, 5G demand has been ramping up fast.
Different shades of 5G
It is unthinkable that Apple’s iPhone 12 would not be equipped with 5G technology. But beyond this certainty, the details about the launch of the new smartphone models are largely a big question mark.
Apple’s CFO Luca Maestri disclosed, during the company’s most recent earnings call, that the next iPhone would be delayed by a few weeks. It is unclear whether the launch of all models will be pushed back, and by how long exactly. An October launch date would be good news, while a November one, not so much.
Also, there are questions around how many iPhone 12 versions will be available. Consensus seems to revolve around four models: a base one, a Max, a Pro and a Pro Max. Should this be the case, there is a decent chance that the “non-pro” versions will support sub-6GHz only and be available for purchase sooner, while the “pro” versions may support mmWave and not come out until later in 2020 or 2021.
Between now and Apple’s anticipated September event, the rumor mill will keep churning.
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