A 5G Apple iPhone? Don't Hold Your Breath!
As you may have seen by now, Apple has got permission to start testing on 5G frequencies in California from the FCC. This doesn't mean, however, that a 5G iPhone is round the corner.
As I first reported last Monday, Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) has received an experimental license (ELS) from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to test on 28GHz and 39GHz frequencies in California. These millimeter wave (mmWave) bands, which are much higher up the range (30-300GHz) than current cellular frequencies, are expected to be one of the building blocks of gigabit-plus 5G services. (See Apple Gets 5G Test Approval.)
This doesn't mean that Apple will be delivering an mmWave 5G iPhone in the near future. It may not even be among the first wave of device vendors to deliver 5G.
How do I know this?
Well, Apple lists that it is using test equipment from A.H. Systems, Analog Devices Inc. (NYSE: ADI) and Rohde & Schwarz GmbH & Co. KG during tests. That is a broadband antenna, a vector signal generator along with radio power amplifiers, and a chipset used for RF development. In other words, this is a pretty early-stage test.
In contrast, rival Samsung Corp. has been working with operators in the US -- and beyond -- on 28GHz for at least a year, longer in some cases. The South Korean vendor intends to have a 5G Galaxy device ready for the Winter Olympics in February.
Apple, however, has never seemed dead set on being at the cutting edge of radio technology. Recall that Apple launched its first iPhone -- a decade ago -- on so-called "2.5G" EDGE when rivals and operators were already on 3G. (See Apple Preps for Millionth iPhone and What if Capacity Isn't AT&T's iPhone Problem?)
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading