But Apple hasn’t left itself in a rut – its 2020 iPhone 12 plans have already caused a stir online with major upgrades overhauling both interior and exterior features.
But now, perhaps most excitingly, breaking news has revealed an Appl design decision which is risky, radical and potentially phenomenal.
In the new exclusive, the brilliant Fast Company reveals Apple has decided to rip-out core 5G technology from the iPhone 12 series and start from scratch.
The site reports that Apple ‘balked’ at the design for the 5G antenna module supplied by chipmaker Qualcomm because it was too bulky for the ‘sleep industrial design Apple wants for the new phone.’ Instead, Apple wants to build a replacement from the ground up itself.
Alongside reports from Fast Company, acclaimed industry insider Ming-Chi Kuo has also revealed Apple had scrapped its plans for 5G technology inside the iPhone 12. In a report by reputable 9to5Mac, Apple scrapped its ambitious plans to include up to six power amplifiers for 5G networking.
Kuo said Apple has instead opted for just one or two amplifiers which would mean the end of 2×2 MIMO uplink support and slower 5G performance.
The challenge for Apple to do this in just four months, before iPhones begin their first production runs in June, is immense.
Apple may have purchased Intel’s modem division last year, but Intel sold it off because it struggled to create an efficient 5G modem to rival chipmaker giant, Qualcomm. It’s no coincidence that Apple then signed a multi-year 5G agreement with Qualcomm after purchasing the Intel division – making this a remarkable acceleration of Apple’s 5G plans.
Additionally, Fast Company highlights ‘5G antennas are hard,’ because the technology uses higher frequencies which are much more sensitive with less margin for error for 4G or 3G.
‘A slight imperfection in an antenna coming off the production line might lead to connection problems later on,’ the publication said.
Even more pressure in this situation is Apple’s track record – the company previously decided to design the antenna on the iPhone 4, with the fundamentally compromised result becoming known as ‘Antennagate.’ This was after the smartphone saw signal strength drop when the handset was held.
It also prompted the well-known defensive response from Steve Jobs to one disgruntled iPhone 4 user – ‘Just avoid holding it in that way,’ which has been misquoted widely as ‘You’re holding it wrong.’
But another outcome could see great rewards for Apple – it could be a grand success, with industry-wide consequences.
From a business perspective, if Apple can better Qualcomm’s design it has an exclusive differentiator from the competition and garners control over yet another feature of the iPhone – good news after numerous lawsuits and international disputes from the two tech powerhouses.
Apple would also save money from reducing expenses used in purchasing licences for another iPhone part.
There are also potentially big wins from a design perspective. Apple’s success over the bulkier Qualcomm antenna would mean the iPhone 12 can be slimmer than any rival 5G phone on the market and use the extra space for a bigger battery and processor.
But, if the experiment goes awry – Apple can still revert back to Qualcomm at the last minute to seek an antenna.
If Apple does conquer the 5G antenna trial, it could be the cherry on top for the iPhone 12, which has already been speculated to have new screen sizes, an exciting long-range 3D camera, a potentially transformative new A14 chip and there is even a mooted return for Touch ID through an in-display sensor to work alongside Face ID.
The negatives is that Apple is tipped to increase the iPhone prices across the iPhone 12 range, meaning less access to younger or marginalised people. The premium range may, in the end, entice people to save their money to get their hands on one.