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Apple says it'll wait until 2020 before offering 5G iPhone

Apple Inc. has a plan to hold off “until at least 2020” before releasing an iPhone that can connect to the next generation of high-speed phone services set to come to consumers next year, according to BNN Bloomberg.

Apple’s delay may make it easier for rival phone companies to fill the gap and win over customers by offering phones that take advantage of the new 5G network in the near future. 5G connectivity “will provide a leap forward in mobile data speeds” when they are introduced next year.

The technology giant did the same with the two previous network generations, 3G and 4G, when they waited as long as one year after the initial deployment to allow their phones to access those new networks.

Apple had calculated moves that previously proved correct. The companies that jumped into new networks experienced problems such as spotty coverage and consumer dissatisfaction. 5G “boosters” believe that the new 5G network will offer incomparable speeds, making Apple’s delay a market risk.

Apple’s ongoing feud with Qualcomm Inc., a leading company in 5G-chip technology, could be at the centre of their decision to wait. Qualcomm has an alliance with Intel Corp. who won’t have 5G chips available “in time to support 2019 phones.”

Apple hasn’t responded to requests for comment.

Apple’s first iPhone, released in 2007, was “so far ahead of its rivals” even given its slower network connectivity. A later model, the iPhone 4S, had enough features to satiate consumers despite its “lack of true 4G LTE speeds”.

Market experts believe the quantum leap from 4G to 5G is large enough to become a significant selling feature for the upcoming release of new phones. Competitor Samsung Electronics Co. already has plans to release a 5G wave of its Galaxy device next year. In China, the world’s largest smartphone market, major brands Oppo and Huawei Technologies Co. have also announced plans to release their own 5G-ready phones.

“Apple has always been a laggard in cellular technology,” says Mark Hung, analyst at Gartner Inc. “They weren’t impacted in the past, but 5G is going to be much easier to market. [If] they wait beyond 2020, then I think they’ll be impacted.”

Apple has some market pressure to sustain their customer base. The company lost one-fifth of its value over the past two months due to supplier and stock issues, “signaling the new models introduced in September aren’t selling as well as anticipated.”

According to IDC, an industry analyst, the iPhone makes up nearly 60% of the company’s revenue and is its foundation for other services including music, video and cloud storage.

Wireless carriers in America like Verizon and AT&T will likely prioritize 5G marketing in order to “get customers to migrate over as soon as possible.”