Apple (AAPL - Get Report) might not be able to produce a 5G-capable iPhone until 2021 due to a lack of the necessary chipsets, according to a UBS analyst. This comes despite smartphone rivals such as Samsung (SSNLF) and Huawei planning to ship 5G smartphones as early as this summer.
Arcuri nonetheless reiterated his buy rating and $215 price target for Apple based on a lengthening upgrade cycle for the iPhone that would mitigate the impact of not having a 5G iPhone next year.
Apple shares were rising 1% to $195.93 on Wednesday and are up about 24% this year.
Apple has begun exclusively relying on Intel (INTC - Get Report) for its iPhone modem chips and is no longer using such chips from Qualcomm (QCOM - Get Report) because of a long-running dispute over royalty payments. But Intel is unlikely to have a backward-compatible 5G modem chip ready soon enough for Apple to produce 5G iPhones by 2021, and getting 5G chipsets from other suppliers such as Samsung and Mediatek would be unlikely, according to Arcuri.
5G promises much faster download speeds for smartphones, but getting those speeds is dependent on carriers rolling out 5G networks, which is only starting to happen now. So the lack of a 5G phone in the short term may not be that much of a problem for Apple, which reportedly is targeting a 2020 launch date for its 5G iPhones.
Arcuri wrote that users needing to upgrade their old iPhones in the next year or two would "soften any potential impact" of not having a 5G phone next year. iPhones now have an "effective upgrade grade of [around] 3.4 years," according to Arcuri.
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