The 5G network is here and while it is currently very limited in terms of cities, countries and mobile networks, it is still here.
The only issue, apart from living in a compatible location and being on a compatible network, is that you also need a 5G-enabled phone too. A few companies have released 5G devices already – Samsung, Oppo, LG, Xiaomi and OnePlus – but Apple isn’t on that list as yet.
This is everything we know so far about a 5G-enabled iPhone, including when it might arrive and what the rumours say.
Apple iPhone 5G release date
Apple hasn’t announced when it will officially announce a 5G iPhone, but it is not expected to be this year.
The latest reports suggest Apple will support 5G in at least one of its iPhone models in 2020, but for 2019, it looks like you’ll have to settle for 4G LTE unless you are happy to move to Samsung, Oppo, LG or OnePlus – all of who have a 5G-ready device available.
Typically Apple announces its new iPhones in September, but that’s not to say it won’t release a 5G-capable iPhone earlier in the year. At the moment, there is no evidence to support this though so for now, we are expecting a 5G variant of the iPhone 12 or iPhone XIS in September 2020.
Apple iPhone 5G rumours: What’s happened so far?
22 August 2019: Apple iPhone 11 ‘Pro’, Watch Series 5 and AirPods 3 details revealed in new report
A report from Bloomberg has offered a number of details about what to expect for the 2019 iPhones and 5G connectivity wasn’t listed as a feature.
Instead, Mark Gurman said in the report that the 2020 iPhones would be the models to offer 5G support, not the 2019 iPhones, supporting what has been claimed in the past.
22 July 2019: 5G iPhone? Apple might buy Intel’s 5G modem biz despite Qualcomm deal
The Wall Street Journal has said Apple might make a deal with Intel that will see it purchase Intel’s smartphone modem business for $1 billion.
The deal, which could be announced as early as late July 2019, would follow Intel’s announcement from April 2019 that it planned to exit the 5G mobile modem business.
18 June 2019: Analyst predicts iPhone 5G coming in 2020
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed Apple would announce 5.4-inch and 6.7-inch high-end iPhones with OLED displays offering 5G connectivity, along with a 6.1-inch OLED model supporting up to LTE in 2020.
Kuo also said that all iPhones will have 5G capabilities by 2021 and Apple would probably have its own 5G chip by 2023.
16 April 2019: Apple and Qualcomm settle legal issues, while Intel quits 5G
Following two years of legal disputes, Apple and Qualcomm settled in April 2019, much to everyone’s surprise. The settlement resulted in Apple making a payment to Qualcomm and the two companies also signing a six-year license agreement, effective from 1 April 2019.
There’s an option in the settlement to extend the agreement for two years, plus a multiyear “chipset supply agreement”. It led many to believe Apple may release a 5G iPhone sooner than 2020 as Qualcomm already have a 5G modem in place.
On the same day as the Qualcomm and Apple settlement, Intel announced it was quitting the 5G modem business, with its CEO saying “it has become apparent that there is no clear path to profitability and positive returns.”
7 February 2019: Apple moves modem chip engineering in-house
Reuters reported that sources familiar with the matter claimed Apple has moved its modem chip engineering efforts into its in-house hardware team.
The move appears to be an indication that Apple is working on its own chips, rather than outsourcing.
5 November 2018: iPhone 12 will be the first 5G iPhone
The Fast Company reported in November 2018 that Apple would use Intel’s 8161 5G modem in 2020, which led many to assume the first 5G compatible iPhone would be the iPhone 12.
At the time of the report, Apple and Qualcomm were still in legal disputes, which resulted in Apple switching to Intel chips for some of its iPhones.