Will the iPhone 12 be Apple's first 5G phone?

iPhone 11 Pro Max
The iPhone 11 Pro Max above doesn't offer 5G, so will the iPhone 12? (Image credit: Future)

Many smartphones now support 5G, including both big names likes the Samsung Galaxy S20 range and OnePlus 8 Pro, and less mainstream options like the Xiaomi Mi 10, but the iPhone 11 range doesn’t. In fact, no current iPhone supports 5G.

So you might understandably be wondering whether the iPhone 12 will be Apple’s first 5G phone, and while nothing has been confirmed just yet, we have a good idea of the answer.

Below we’ll look at the relevant iPhone 12 rumors to give you an idea of how likely 5G is in the iPhone 12, and which models are most likely to support the speedy tech.

Will the iPhone 12 have 5G?

The short answer is that the iPhone 12 (or at least some models of it) will almost certainly support 5G. Aside from the fact that an iPhone with 5G is overdue given how many rival handsets have the tech, there are also a large number of rumors pointing in that direction.

In fact, we’ve been hearing from analysts and other sources that the iPhone 12 range will offer 5G as far back as 2019.

There’s been a large number of these claims, and since those early ones we’ve more recently seen iPhone 12 mock-ups that sport relocated SIM trays to allow room for 5G antennas, plus a claim from Jon Prosser (a leaker with a generally good track record) that all four iPhone 12 models will sport 5G.

Not only that, but there are no remotely recent rumors disputing these claims. Back in early 2019 there was some question over it, as Apple was entangled in legal battles with Qualcomm – the company that is now expected to supply the iPhone 12’s 5G modems.

However, that situation was resolved in April 2019, leaving a year and a half for the two companies to get 5G into the iPhone 12 range (which is likely to land in September) - which we’d think should be plenty of time.

Which iPhone 12 models will have 5G?

While we’re very confident that some iPhone 12 models will have 5G, there’s slightly more question over which ones will get it – but only slightly.

The bulk of leaks suggest that all four rumored iPhone 12 models will have 5G, those being the 5.4-inch iPhone 12, the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Max, the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro, and the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max.

However, one source has suggested that the two cheapest iPhone 12 models (the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 and the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Max) will also come in 4G versions, meaning you’d potentially be able to choose whether you want 5G or not, and pay less for a model without – this source claims that the 4G iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Max will cost $549 and $649 respectively, with the 5G versions being $100 more.

You might not have to opt for an older iPhone do avoid paying for 5G

You might not have to opt for an older iPhone do avoid paying for 5G (Image credit: Future)

That would make the 4G handsets remarkably cheap for a numbered iPhone – cheaper even than the iPhone 11. That said, this source doesn’t have much of a track record yet, so we’d take this with a pinch of salt.

Also, even if they are right, it’s possible that some regions will only get one version or the other, so you might still not be able to choose whether to opt for 5G or not.

Will every 5G iPhone have the same 5G technology?

Not all 5G is the same, and it certainly doesn’t look like it will all be the same across different iPhone 12 models, as according to Jon Prosser the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Max will only support sub-6GHz 5G, while the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max would support both that and mmWave 5G.

The main difference between these is that mmWave is typically faster, so if this leak is accurate then you can expect better 5G performance from the ‘Pro’ models – but not everywhere, because some networks and regions only use one tech or the other, and sub-6GHz is more widely used.

So in places where there’s only sub-6GHz infrastructure, the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max won’t have an advantage, but in places where there’s only mmWave infrastructure, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Max won’t even be able to connect to 5G, and in places where there’s both, the ‘Pro’ models will likely be faster.

This will be more of a factor in some places than others though. In the UK for example mmWave isn’t in use at the time of writing, so other than potential future proofing it shouldn’t matter which iPhone 12 model you opt for from that perspective.

But in the US, it is in use, and Verizon for example is heavily reliant on the tech, so the cheaper iPhone models might not support 5G on that network.

  • Can't wait? There are already lots of 5G phones
James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.