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What Are Apple’s 5G iPhone Plans?

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Apple cleared to test 5G technology

While Huawei and Samsung (SSNLF) have been publicly discussing their plans for 5G (fifth-generation) phones, Apple (AAPL) has been mostly quiet on the issue. But that doesn’t mean it’s sitting idle as its rivals race to develop 5G devices.

Last year, the Federal Communications Commission granted Apple permission to test 5G technology, suggesting that the company was considering a 5G iPhone down the road. Citing a confidential source, Fast Company reported earlier this month that Apple is planning to release its first 5G iPhone in 2020. The report said Apple would use Intel’s (INTC) modem chips in its first 5G iPhones.

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Apple’s supplier readies its 5G chip

In what appears to support speculations about Apple’s 5G iPhone plans, Intel recently announced that it had developed a 5G modem capable of powering a wide range of devices, from phones to personal computers. It said the chip would become available to manufacturers starting in the second half of 2019, with devices using the chip expected to start arriving on the market in early 2020.

Intel has been Apple’s supplier of iPhone components for some time, with Apple using Intel’s modem chips exclusively in its latest iPhone models, which it launched in September. Apple previously sourced iPhone modem chips from both Intel and Qualcomm (QCOM).

Huge commercial opportunity in the making

The deployment of 5G network technology is promising to unlock enormous commercial opportunity for handset makers such as Apple. Ericsson (ERIC), a leading supplier of telecommunications equipment, predicts that there will be up to 1.0 billion 5G subscribers globally by 2023.

Apple captured 13% of the global smartphone market in the third quarter compared to the 14.4% captured by Huawei and the 20.1% captured by Samsung, according to Strategy Analytics.

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