With Apple’s months-long patent royalty battle with Qualcomm settled as of last week, the pathway to reliable 5G iPhones seems clear. Now reliable supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities has new predictions about what to expect for future 5G iPhones.
Qualcomm and Samsung Chips
According to Kuo, Apple will source both Qualcomm and Samsung for 5G baseband chips inside future iPhones that use next-gen cellular connections. Kuo highlights three benefits to sourcing 5G chips from two suppliers: less supply risk, lower costs, and more bargaining power for Apple.
Intel has long been reported to be Apple’s sole 5G chip supplier, with hardware expected in 2020 or 2021, although recent reports questioned Intel’s ability to ship reliable 5G chips on a competitive timeline. As of last week, however, Intel has officially forfeited the 5G fight and Apple settled out of court with Qualcomm.
Kuo explains that Apple will likely use Qualcomm chips for markets with mmWave spectrum 5G, saving Samsung for Sub-6GHz markets. 5G iPhones are expected to ship as soon as the second half of 2020, according to Kuo, which is consistent with reporting that Apple and Qualcomm are targeting next fall’s flagship as the first 5G model.
5G iPhone Upgrades
Naturally, Kuo believes 5G iPhones will create a new wave of upgrade demand for Apple. The analyst predicts 195-200 million iPhones shipped in 2020, up from his 2019 predictions of 188-192 million shipments.
Targeting the fall flagship launches, Kuo believes Apple will ship 70-75 million flagship iPhones in 2020 alone, up from 65-70 million flagship models this fall.
Apple’s 5G iPhone plans appear to be moving ahead with much more steam now that Apple’s settlement with Qualcomm is behind us and the two companies have a multi-year agreement on cellular modems.
Kuo’s supply chain report has the usual disclaimers, however, including the possibility that future iPhone features could be delayed. The ongoing U.S. trade war with China remains another concern for Apple, Kuo says.