Apple sets 2020 target for launching its first 5G iPhone but there may be hiccups

Apple will likely use Intel’s 8161 5G modem chip in its 2020 5G iPhone.

As carriers and equipment providers are all trying to prepare themselves for India's plan to commercially roll-out 5G in 2020, a source close to Apple claims that the company's first 5G iPhone will come to market in the same year.

Apple, as a brand, is known to implement new technology only when it feels it's ready and while other OEMs are planning to launch 5G smartphone as early as early 2019, 5G iPhones won't be launched anytime soon. As per a report by Fast Company, the Cupertino giant is gearing up for a tentative 2020 target for launching its first 5G iPhone, despite not having mentioned anything officially yet.

The Apple iPhone XR. Image: tech2/Omkar Patne

The Apple iPhone XR. Image: tech2/Omkar Patne

The source close to Apple's plans also mentioned that the company is reportedly using an Intel 8060 chip for prototyping, but will likely launch its first 5G iPhone with Intel’s 8161 5G modem chip inside. The 8060 currently has "heat dissipation issues" because of which Apple isn't very happy with Intel.

The source explains the sheer demand needed for millimetre-wave signals raise both the temperature of the chip and also adversely impacts battery life. Intel is looking into the issue but Apple is also in discussion with MediaTek to supply the 5G chips as a "Plan B", in case, Intel fails to deliver.

The issues at hand are, however, not bad enough for Apple to reopen conversations with Qualcomm about supplying 5G modems. The fact that Qualcomm's X50 modem has also created heat dissipation for other OEMs also put Intel and Qualcomm on the same boat currently.

As per a report by The Verge, the FCC did grant Apple approval to experiment with 5G technology in 2017, suggesting that a 5G phone might be in the offing soon. As for Apple's tie-up with Intel, the two companies have been working together to supply modems for the iPhone since 2015. This year's iPhone XS, iPhone XR and the iPhone XS Max are in fact the first batch of iPhones to exclusively use Intel modems.

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