There have been conflicting reports about what sort of 5G support will be offered by the iPhone 12 – specifically, will all of this year’s iPhones get mmWave 5G, or will that be limited to specific models or certain countries?

Some have suggested that only the iPhone 12 Pro models will get the faster mmWave 5G, while others have reported that it will be limited to certain countries. A new supply-chain report doesn’t fully answer the question, but does shed a little light …


There are two main 5G standards, known as sub-6HGz and mmWave 5G.

Sub-6GHz 5G will be relatively widely available by the time the iPhone 12 launches. It offers somewhat faster speeds than LTE, but not dramatically so. It does offer reduced latency and greater capacity per cell tower, so more people should get closer to the advertised speeds of 100-150Mbps.

mmWave 5G is the far faster standard, theoretically capable of gigabit speeds, but more typically offering about half that – around 500Mbps. However, it is extremely short-range: much closer to wifi than to LTE. This means it will only be available in very limited areas, like airports, large transit stations, stadiums, and tourist spots.

iPhones will support sub-6GHz 5G for sure; the uncertainty relates to wwWave 5G.

Only half of 2020 iPhones get mmWave 5G

We’ve long had conflicting reports about whether or not this year’s iPhones would support mmWave 5G. Subsequent reports have speculated that it might be limited to the US, or to a handful of countries to include the US, UK and Canada.

A paywalled Digitimes report says that Apple’s supply-chain is expecting the number of mmWave 5G iPhone shipments this year to be halved, compared to earlier estimates.

Shipments of mmWave-enabled 5G iPhones slated for launch later this year are estimated to reach only 15-20 million units in 2020 compared to a previous supply chain estimate of 30-40 million units, intensifying competition among Apple’s suppliers.

That doesn’t tell us which specific iPhones get mmWave 5G – whether it will be limited to some models or some countries – but it does support the idea that not everyone will get it.

Dummy phones image: Iupdate

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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