Analyst: Apple may not ship a 5G iPhone in 2020 (but I think it will)

In a note to clients — as noted by 9to5Mac — UBS analyst Timothy Arcuri says there’s an increasing likelihood that Apple will not be able to launch a 5G iPhone in 2020.

Part of the problem: Apple has no clear choice for 5G modems considering its ongoing legal battle with Qualcomm. What about Intel? The company says it plans to release 5G chipsets by the end of next year. However, Arcuri doesn’t think Intel will meet the deadline and be able to supply a single chip backwards-compatible 5G modem in time for the 2020 iPhone.

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The tech giant has previously bet (correctly) that the new networks and the first versions of rival smartphones would come with problems such as spotty coverage, making consumers less compelled to immediately make the jump. However, those problems are being resolved and it’s just a matter of time before Apple fully embraces 5G. In fact, has filed for patents regarding the technology. Two of them involve devices with millimeter wave yagi antennas for 5G networks.

The Sellers Research Group (that’s me) thinks Apple will build its own iPhone modems. The tech giant moved its modem chip engineering effort into its in-house hardware technology group from its supply chain unit, two unnamed “people familiar with the move” told Reuters in February. This could be a sign that Apple wants to develop a key component of its smartphones after years of buying it from outside suppliers.