Technology

Apple To Debut A New Antenna Tech With 2019 iPhones: Ming-Chi Kuo

2019 Apple iPhones XR Sales
Image Source: Apple.com (screenshot)

With 2018 iPhones now released and available to the buyers for purchase, it is time to shift our focus to the 2019 Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhones. To start, trusted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has come up with an important revelation about next year’s iPhones.

Why Apple wants a new antenna tech?

Kuo in a note (via Apple Insider) claims that the 2019 Apple iPhones will debut with new antenna technology. The analyst notes that next year’s iPhones would feature Modified PI (MPI) antenna technology replacing Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP).

“We predict that the modified polyimide (MPI) will replace Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) and become the mainstream antenna technology of 2H19 new iPhone models,” Kuo said.

According to the analyst, “complicated” production processes of the LCP and Apple’s lower bargaining power with the LCP component supplier is the primary reason for the change. Over the last few years, Apple has taken several steps to extend its supplier base. Broadening supplier base not only helps Apple in price negotiations, but also minimizes production delays.

Moreover, LCP is relatively more fragile from the production point. So, if a company takes measures to improve LCP yields, it could lead to reduced LTE performance. Possibly, users might not notice any difference in the performance, but a shift to MPI might make the production more efficient by preventing supply-side delays.

Apple may use both

Kuo, however, believes that Apple would use a mix of LCP and MPI antennas in the 2019 iPhones. As per the analyst, the upcoming 6.5-inch, 5.8-inch, and 6.1-inch iPhone models would have four MPI antennas and two LCP antennas. The iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR include six LCP antennas. After Apple shifts to the new technology, LCP shipments for the iPhones are expected to come down by at least 70%.

Kuo notes that Apple would use five suppliers for the MPI antennas. This would give Apple more bargaining power, while suppliers will have to compete on the price. The LCP antennas for the 2019 iPhones will be exclusively supplied by a Japanese supplier, Kuo said.

As smartphone manufacturers shift to 5G, Kuo believes that both MPI and LCP “will coexist.” It is a general belief that the 5G era will help improve the LCP materials growth. Kuo, however, believes that the many mid-range and low-end smartphones may move to MPI antennas during the transition from 4G to 5G.

LCP, so far, has offered benefits like consistent performance and low loss. Kuo, however, believes that MPI tech is catching up fast. Apple will reportedly come up with the first 5G-enabled iPhone models in 2020 powered by an Intel chip.

2019 Apple iPhones – what to expect?

Kuo’s latest report reasserts the observation that he made earlier about Apple releasing three iPhones in 2019 featuring the same form factor as the 2018 models. Talking of the features that the 2019 iPhones would come with, Kuo previously said the 2019 iPhones would come with improved Face ID sensors to boost reliability and performance.

Also, the 2019 iPhones could come with a smaller notch because Apple may combine the front-facing camera and the Face ID sensors. There are also rumors that Apple could debut a multi-hovering technology with the next year’s iPhones. This tech would recognize multi-touch inputs from a distance of 50mm.

Last year, a rumor from China claimed that the 2019 iPhones would use micro-LED displays. This rumor came up after Foxconn acquired Sharp. However, since then, there has been no follow up on this rumor.

In terms of the camera, the 2019 iPhones could get a triple-lens camera setup, something similar to the Huawei P20 Pro. The new camera setup may feature a six-piece lens structure with up to 5x optical zoom and one 12-megapixel sensor. The third lens could be a 3x optical zoom, compared to the 2x zoom in the iPhone X and XS.

Apple is expected to continue using OLED displays for the 2019 iPhones. Though some rumors say that Apple may go with an all OLED lineup ditching even the LCD display for the iPhone XR, others say the company would continue with LCD for the XR owing to the high cost of the OLED display.

Nothing, however, is confirmed for now, not even the names of the 2019 iPhones. Some say that the new iPhone would be called iPhone 11 or iPhone XI.