Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is out this morning with an investor note covering antenna technology for the 2019 iPhones. Kuo predicts that Apple will move away from Liquid Crystal Polymer antenna technology, and shift towards a new combination of Modified PI tech.
Kuo says there are several reasons for Apple to make this change. For one, the company is said to have “lower bargaining power” against LCP material suppliers, while it’s also more difficult to introduce additional LCP suppliers due to the “complicated production process.”
Further, Kuo says LCP is more “brittle” than alternatives and thus has issues with yield rate, and improving that yield rate could potentially lower the antenna’s performance. As for the performance of Modified PI antenna, Kuo says that performance “can be as good as LCP thanks to the improved fluoride formula.”
Kuo specifically predicts that the 2019 iPhone models will adopt four MPI antennae and two LCP antennae. Currently, the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max are each quipped with six LCP antenna.
The number of suppliers for MPI antennae for the 2019 iPhones will be five, according to Kuo. This gives Apple improved bargaining power, with the suppliers having to compete on price. The LCP antennae tech used in the 2019 iPhones will be supplied “exclusively by the Japanese supplier thanks to its better vertical integration,” according to Kuo.
For the average consumer, this change doesn’t seem as if it will come with any notable changes. Kuo says that both LCP and MPI will be involved in the push towards 5G technology. While LCP has traditionally offered advantages in areas like consistent performance and low loss, MPI is widely believed to be catching up.
Earlier this month, Kuo predicted that upgraded Face ID is coming to the new iPhones in 2019, while he also noted that new iPads will arrive by early 2020.
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