Apple enters 5G smartphone biz with four new iPhones

Apple announced four new iPhones enabling smartphone customers to use 5G mobile data networks.
Apple 5G smartphone iPhone 12 ProWhat analysts said

TrendForce said the global production volume of smartphones is approximately 1.25 billion units, registering 11 percent drop, in 2020. The production volume of iPhone will be roughly 194 million units during 2020, which is identical to the figure last year.

Canalys said Apple has performed exceptionally in 2020, driven by the cheaper iPhone 11, and the budget-friendly iPhone SE.

Just 13 percent of smartphones shipped in H1 2020 were 5G-capable. Of these, 78 percent were shipped in China, which has quickly become the world leader in 5G deployment and adoption.

“People tend to keep their phones for longer, so if Apple does bring 5G devices to market, it will finally be able to target stubborn upgraders at the high-end who are looking to future-proof their next device,” Ben Stanton, senior analyst at Canalys, said.

Strategy Analytics earlier said global 5G smartphone sales will surge 1,300 percent to a record 250 million units in 2020. Apple iPhone, Huawei, and Samsung are driving the 5G smartphone market higher this year.

“A quarter-billion 5G smartphones will be sold worldwide in 2020. China and United States are the two largest 5G countries. Apple iPhone, Huawei, and Samsung are the top-three brands that together will capture two-thirds of all 5G smartphone sales this year,” Ken Hyers, director at Strategy Analytics, said.

“Many 5G smartphone models are too expensive, most 5G carrier networks are incomplete, while multiple waves of coronavirus are causing consumer fatigue in Western markets like the US and Europe,” Ville-Petteri Ukonaho, associate director at Strategy Analytics, said.

Many are concerned 5G networks are not robust enough to spur adoption of the new iPhone 12 line.

Lynnette Luna, principal analyst at GlobalData, said carriers that have rolled out 5G have been waiting for this moment.

“We can expect an aggressive holiday selling season as carriers look to recoup their 5G investments and spur pandemic-weary consumers into buying new devices,” Lynnette Luna said.

The success of Apple’s 5G iPhone will depend on telecom operators and the app developers.

While companies such as EE and Vodafone are investing in 5G infrastructure, capabilities are limited, and the market is fragmented. Operators must invest in Edge computing, virtualisation and more to deliver the next-generation services made possible with 5G, Daniel Valle, chief technologist EMEA, World Wide Technology, said.

Similarly, mobile apps are built for 4G infrastructure, and aren’t yet configured to leverage increased bandwidth and decreased latency. The owner of a new 5G iPhone will not yet have instantaneous Netflix streaming or augmented reality gaming. The burden is on developers to update these applications to take advantage of new infrastructure, such as 5G-enabled Edge computing.

iPhone 5G smartphones

The Cupertino, California-based company’s Tuesday launch included smartphones ranging from $699 to $1,399 with new designs and 5G technology.

Apple said all four new iPhone models in the United States will support millimeter wave 5G, the fastest variant of the technology, as well as lower-frequency bands. Some rival Android devices support only the lower-frequency versions of 5G.

Nearly all of Apple’s rivals, including Samsung Electronics, have 5G models on store shelves already. The iPhone maker’s announcement is likely to bring attention to the 5G technology, even if U.S. carriers are still years away from rolling out the fastest versions.

Apple’s newest base model, the iPhone 12 mini, sports a 5.4 inch (13.72 cm) full screen display, with a dual camera setup and is priced at $699. The device can be pre-ordered from Nov. 6 and shipping will begin a week later.

Apple iPhone 12 has a 6.1 inch display and starts at $799. Customers in more than 30 countries will be able to pre-order the phone on Oct. 16 and it will be shipped from Oct. 23.

The Pro iPhones come in two variants, Pro and Pro Max, with a price tag starting at $999 and three cameras each. The iPhone 12 Pro Max sports the company’s largest ever display of 6.7 inches. Pre-orders for the iPhone 12 Pro begin Oct. 16 and it goes on sale on Oct. 23.

Market expectations

The new products will test whether Apple can ride a wave of consumer excitement around 5G wireless data networks, whose speediest variants outstrip their predecessors’ data rates multiple times over, Reuters reported.

Outside of the United States, however, iPhones will lack millimeter wave compatibility, even in countries like Australia and South Korea where carriers are planning to roll out versions of the millimeter wave technology. Like some cheaper Android devices, iPhone 12 models in those countries will only support lower-frequency versions of 5G.

Apple said it tested 5G on more than 800 carriers in 30 regions. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg appeared on Apple’s livestream presentation to announce that the phones would work with the U.S. carrier’s ultrawideband 5G network, designed to alleviate bottlenecks in major cities like New York and Los Angeles, as well as in crowded areas like NFL stadiums.