Not all 5G is equal, as the frequency bands it’s broadcast on can affect the speed, and not all phones support every band. But it’s now been reported that the iPhone 13 range may support most of the key bands in many parts of the world, potentially leading to much better 5G performance.
According to Ming-Chi Kuo (an analyst with a great track record for Apple information) in a note seen by iMore (opens in new tab), iPhone 13 models sold in the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, and by “major European mobile operators” will support millimeter wave (mmWave) 5G.
That refers to high frequency radio bands, and data carried on these bands can potentially travel much faster than over the lower frequency Sub-6GHz bands that many 5G phones (including the iPhone 12 range outside the US) currently use.
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So in the US there probably won’t be any change, as the iPhone 12 range already uses both mmWave and Sub-6GHz there. But it doesn’t use mmWave in any other country, so all those other listed ones would be getting a big upgrade with the iPhone 13, if this information is right.
Networks need to catch up
That said, the reason the iPhone 12 range doesn’t support mmWave 5G outside the US is that most mobile networks outside the US don’t support it yet either. So unless and until that changes, building the capability into the phones won’t help users.
But Kuo claims that he expects 5G coverage to substantially increase in the second half of 2021, particularly in terms of mmWave, so the time could be right for Apple to expand support for the tech in its phones.
Whether the UK will benefit remains to be seen though: while we’d think it might be among the European places mentioned, none of the UK’s networks currently have access to mmWave spectrum, and as there aren’t any more 5G spectrum auctions on the immediate horizon it might be a while before that changes.
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