When Samsung, Huawei and ZTE launched their commercial 5G phones at MWC last month, a realization sank into the mobile industry. A realisation that Apple, which used to lead innovation in the smartphone industry by miles until a few years back, has missed it by the same number of miles when it comes to 5G. And now, there is even more substance to that school of thought.
According to Cowen, Apple might not release their version of a 5G-enabled smartphone until 2020, says a report from Bloomberg. Major competitors like Samsung and Huawei have already debuted their entry into the 5th generation mobile network with their new flagship smartphone launches.
Barclays has also seconded that chain of thought. The financial giant explains, that the modem design for 2020 iPhones “needs to be set now.”. They also go on to explain that Intel’s race to ship its first 5G smartphone modem in late 2019 “does not work with Apple’s timeline.”
Apple could settle its legal disputes with chipset manufacturers Qualcomm and revert to the use of their 5G components, but it seems unlikely. The two companies have been engaged in a legal battle over patent infringement since 2017. And with all the mud-slinging that has been going on for well over 2 years now, it seems highly unlikely that either of them will budge.
The other option is to go to competitors like Samsung. And attempts have in fact been made for the same. These however will be tough bargains for the company, specially in times when Samsung has been aggressively marketing its flagships and wouldn’t want to loose the 5G edge to Apple at such initial stages of development. Within Apple, doubts have emerged about the standard of the components that will be supplied. Apple fears that they wouldn’t be able to “meet Apple’s production, performance and cost demands.” And its no hidden fact that the Cupertino giant is years away from being able to manufacture their own 5G components for their devices. In-house hardware manufacturing hasn’t really been the focus after all.
So is it the end of the road ? Not really. 5G is still pretty nascent with even the most developed markets on the map realising the benefits of the tech via testing. But then, can Apple be in peace and launch yet another run-of-the-mill iPhone this year ? Absolutely not. The company has already been at the receiving end of a stock market bloodbath as China sales grind to lowest levels historically and there is nothing that the new iPhones offer that could cheer up the market.
Either ways, ball is in Apple’s court. Eyes are set on the September launch event this year in hopes, that Apple of the past (with perhaps late Steve Jobs’ guiding light) will re-emerge and throw at us something to be wowed by.