Apple and other smartphone makers have been struggling with smartphone sales globally as consumers hold onto devices longer. However, Apple is of course still pressing on with new iPhone models for this year, which aren't expected to support 5G technology. A new rumor claims that the next iPhone models will have a new antenna that might improve performance and hold users over until a 5G iPhone does launch in late 2020.
The new rumor comes from notable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, and he says that Apple plans to use modified-Pi (MPI) material for most antennas in 2019 iPhone models. The current material used for antennas by Apple is liquid crystal polymer (LCP). Kuo says that the LCP material limits the RF performance of the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR antennas due to technology limitations and production issues.
The MPI material is easier and cheaper to produce, but Kuo says that he thinks the RF performance of the MPI material at least on par with LCP when current technology limitations and production issues are factored in. Kuo also states that he believes Apple will use the new LCP antennas in future iPad models starting in late Q4 2019.
Kuo previously said in a research note that two new iPad models would go into production in late Q4 2019 or Q1 2020. He has predicted those iPad Pro models will have 11-inch and 12.9-inch screen sizes, just as the current models offer. Kuo says those devices will have flexible circuit boards using LCP.
Rumors had previously suggested that Apple wouldn't have a 5G iPhone until 2021 due to delays at modem supplier Intel. However, now that Apple and Qualcomm have kissed and made up, the 2020 timeframe seems more and more likely for an iPhone 5G release.