TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is always a step ahead of others – and highly accurate – when it comes to predicting Apple’s future product roadmap. He has made several accurate predictions about unannounced iPhones, iPads, and Macs, in the past. Now he has released a new research report (via 9to5Mac) spilling the beans on the 2020 iPhone 12 series.
The 2020 iPhone 12 and 12 Max to support 5G
We don’t know what this year’s iPhones would be called, let alone the 2020 iPhones. For the sake of convenience, we are referring to the next year’s iPhones as iPhone 12. Apple fans are eagerly looking forward to this year’s iPhone 11 series, which would introduce a triple camera system. Kuo has told investors that the 2020 iPhone 12 would be a much bigger upgrade.
The analyst noted that Apple would launch its first 5G iPhones next year. The company’s flagship iPhone line would continue to consist of three devices. All three of the 2020 iPhones would feature OLED displays, meaning the company is going to ditch the LCD panel even on the iPhone XR successor.
According to Kuo, there will be two premium models – one with a 5.4-inch OLED display and another with a larger 6.7-inch OLED panel. Both of them will have 5G support. It seems like Apple would reduce the screen size of the iPhone XS successor from 5.8-inch to 5.4-inch. A lot of Apple fans have been demanding a premium iPhone with a smaller screen. The 2020 iPhone 12 is aimed at them.
The iPhone XS Max and iPhone 11 Max successor’s screen size would get larger from 6.5-inch to 6.7-inch. The third model is said to be the iPhone XR successor. It would have a 6.1-inch OLED display and offer 4G LTE connectivity instead of 5G. The display dimensions corroborate with an earlier leak from DigiTimes.
The 2020 iPhone 12 and 12 Max would support both 5G standards: sub-6GHz and mmWave technology. The US telecom carriers are deploying the mmWave spectrum in the country, though carriers in many other countries use the sub-6GHz standard.
Apple’s own 5G modem expected to debut in 2022
Kuo told investors that all three iPhones would get 5G connectivity in 2021 at the earliest. The Cupertino company is developing its own 5G modems but won’t be able to use them in iPhones until 2022 or 2023. It means the iPhone maker will continue to rely on Qualcomm for 5G modems for the next few years. Even though Apple will source 5G modems from Qualcomm, it will be using its own RF antenna and power amplifier designs in the next year’s iPhones.
Apple had previously joined hands with Intel to use its 5G modems in 2020 iPhones as the Apple-Qualcomm legal battle dragged on. But Intel’s 5G modem development wasn’t proceeding as expected, which could have forced Apple to delay the launch of 5G iPhones to 2021 or later. So, the Cupertino company agreed to settle its disputes with Qualcomm and source 5G modems from Qualcomm instead of Intel.
Following the Apple-Qualcomm settlement, Intel abandoned the development of 5G modems. Apple is reportedly in talks to acquire Intel’s modem business in Germany to boost the development of its in-house 5G chips. Kuo told investors that Intel would continue to supply 4G LTE modems for this year’s iPhone 11 series. That’s because the two companies had reached the supply deal for iPhone 11 LTE modems before Apple settled its dispute with Qualcomm.
As for this year’s iPhone 11 series, numerous leaks have suggested that the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Max would look almost identical to last year’s iPhone XS and XS Max. However, they would feature a triple camera setup on the back. The iPhone XR successor will continue to use the LCD panel but get a dual camera system on the back. They are also expected to sport a faster A13 processor, iOS 13 software, and larger batteries. The 2019 iPhones would ship with a fast charger in the box.
Tough times ahead in China
Amid the US-China trade war and fierce competition from local vendors, the iPhone sales in China have been struggling. Analysts at JPMorgan and Credit Suisse said in their latest research reports that the iPhone demand could fall further in the world’s largest smartphone market. The US and China both have hiked tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s products.
The slowing economic growth in key markets around the world, including China, is not going to help Apple. Credit Suisse analyst Matthew Cabral wrote that the “aggressive local competition and a narrower ecosystem advantage in China” are structural challenges for the iPhone maker. Unfortunately, there is “no easy near-term fix.”
In the last few years, the Cupertino company has launched a number of subscription services to diversify away from the iPhones.