Apple does not plan to jump on the bandwagon and release a 5G-ready iPhone next year, when the next-generation network starts to become available to the public. 

The Cupertino giant reportedly plans to hold off until 2020 before launching a 5G-capable iPhone even though rivals like Samsung Electronics are preparing to take advantage of the high-speed phone services debuting in 2019, people familiar with Apple’s plans told Bloomberg on Monday. 

Since early this year, many companies have been teasing about the launch of 5G networks next year. Smartphone makers have also chimed in, promising consumers that they will be ready to roll out devices that support 5G when the time comes. 

However, Apple appears to be hesitant to offer 5G-ready handsets right away. Tim Cook’s company is said to be waiting about a year after the initial deployment of 5G networks before bringing support to its main product. 

The move should not come as a surprise to Apple fans, considering that this isn’t the first time the company’s delaying adoption of latest network technologies. Apple also waited some time before offering products that supported 3G and 4G mobile technologies. 

Apple typically delays adoption of newer mobile technologies because it anticipates the problems that could arise during the initial phase of deployment. For the tech giant, the first devices that support new mobile technologies tend to experience spotty coverage. 

While Apple is sticking to its belief that early adoption could be problematic, 5G boosters claim that the Cupertino giant is at a disadvantage because the next-generation network would provide a much bigger speed upgrade. 

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

Meanwhile, another reason that could be causing Apple to delay the release of its first 5G-ready iPhone is its feud with Qualcomm, which is expected to be the leader in 5G-enabled chips. Apple has opted to partner with Intel, but Intel won’t have 5G chips available next year. 

Apple could seek help from other 5G modem makers like Huawei and Samsung if it really wants to be one of the first to launch 5G-ready smartphones. However, Apple is unlikely to tap its competitors. Moreover, both Huawei and Samsung may struggle to supply chips for Apple given the latter’s massive volume of iPhones each year, as per MacRumors.

iPhone Apple is waiting for about a year before launching a 5G-ready iPhone. Photo: Getty Images/Stuart C. Wilson