Now that Samsung has confirmed that some models of the Galaxy S10 will offer 5G, you may be wondering when the 5G iPhone will launch. The Galaxy S10 5G edition will launch later in 2019 and there will also be a OnePlus 5G phone, coming in May 2019, apparently, but if you are wondering if the iPhone is 5G, or when Apple will launch a 5G iPhone, you may be in for a long wait.
iPhone 5G release date
While other smartphone manufacturers plan to launch smartphones that work with 5G in 2019, it sounds like Apple won’t be ready to do so until 2020.
It seems that Intel is to blame. According to Fast Company sources in November 2018, the Intel 5G modem chip that Apple is working with is suffering from “heat dissipation issues”. 5G pushes the modem to such an extent that it generates a lot of heat.
And Intel has confirmed the delay. According to a Reuters report in February 2019, the head of Intel’s networking chip business Sandra Rivera revealed that while Intel’s 5G modem chip will be available later this year it won’t appear in consumer “products in the market” until 2020. (It will be seen in non-consumer products, such as networking products.)
However, Intel's delays doesn’t necessarily mean we will have to wait until 2020 for 5G iPhones. It’s thought that while Apple intends to continue to use Intel to provide its 5G modem, the company does have a “Plan B” in the form of MediaTek who could also provide a 5G modem for future iPhone models (although that is an unlikely scenario), according to the Fast Company report from November 2018.
Apple vs Qualcomm
The Apple versus Qualcomm case is worth mentioning here because prior to Apple's reliance on Intel for the modem in its iPhones the company was in partnership with Qualcomm, who were sole provider of wireless chips for the iPhone prior to 2016, and from 2016-2017 were providing chips alongside Intel.
We won't go in to too much detail about the spat between Apple and Qualcomm other than to say that since Apple stopped using Qualcomm chips in the iPhone the relationship between the two companies has broken down like a bad divorce.
We have both companies accusing the other of infringing on their own patents, Qualcomm claiming that Apple owes it money for royalties for using its tech, and the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suing Qualcomm for anticompetitive practices. And there's a whole lot more to the battle than that.
Suffice to say Apple won't be using Qualcomm 5G modems in iPhones despite the fact that Qualcomm has already unveiled what it refers to as "the world's first 5G modem", the Snapdragon X50.
What is 5G?
5G is the successor to 4G. It should be able to offer download speeds of around 1Gb/s (gigabits per second) - maybe even 10Gb/s. That would make it possible to download am HD movie in just 10 seconds (rather than around 10 minutes as is currently the case).
It should also pave the way for new technological advancements such as driverless cars, as it will offer lower latency, which basically means less delay. That should also be good for online gaming, delivery drones and other things that require an always on connection.
You can also expect to see more in the way of VR and AR applications and IoT gadgets will become more common as more devices will be connected to the internet.
5G will use higher radio frequencies, which are less cluttered and can carry information faster. However, they don’t carry the information as far, so more antennas are needed.
And no, despite what Trump says, there is no 6G...
When will we get 5G?
Whether you will be able to access 5G networks in the near future depends on where you are based, and when coverage arrives, it is still likely to be restricted to major cities.
In some parts of the world 5G has already arrived - although coverage is likely to remain limited for some time. For example, in the US roll out for AT&T and T-Mobile have started and Verizon and Sprint’s 5G is expected in the first half of 2019.
In the UK 5G won’t be rolled out until late 2019, with EE saying that it plans to launch 5G in late 2019. EE, Vodafone and O2 are all running 5G trials. Other networks may not offer 5G until 2020. Expect coverage to be limited at first - you might have to wait until 2022 before 5G reaches you if you aren’t in a major city.
As for smartphones - Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi are expected to launch 5G ready handsets early in 2019.
Will the iPhone XS work with 5G?
No existing iPhones will be able to use the 5G network. In fact, it looks like even the 2019 iPhone won't be able to use the 5G network.
However the iPhone XS and XS Max offer Gigabit LTE. If your carrier supports Gigabit LTE you could take advantage a faster connection and your phone should be better able to find and maintain the connection when the signal is weak.
Are you wondering if Apple will release a foldable iPhone? Find out about the folding iPhone rumours here.