iPhone 12 will support sub-6GHz and mmWave, but not the iPhone 13

Qualcomm 5G
Qualcomm 5G (Image credit: Qualcomm)

What you need to know

  • The 2021 iPhone may only include one type of 5G technology.
  • Apple may base 5G tech inside the iPhone on if a region uses the technology.
  • The 2020 iPhones may also reserve 5G for the Pro models.

While the iPhone 12 is expected to feature both sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G technologies, Apple may have different plans for the iPhone 13 next year.

According to a new report from DigiTimes, Apple is considering support one, but not both, 5G technologies in its iPhone lineup in 2021.

"Apple's 2020 series of iPhones will work on both sub-6GHz and millimeter wave 5G networks, and the vendor is considering introducing its iPhones supporting either mmWave or sub-6GHz for specific markets next year, according to industry sources in Taiwan."

As MacRumors explains, Apple may choose to do this since certain regions of the world are implementing one technology over the other. In areas that only use sub-6GHz, Apple could drop mmWave from the iPhone to save on production costs.

All of the 2020 iPhones are expected to have the same modem hardware that supports all 5G bands, but Apple could disable mmWave in countries where it is not operational or turn off 5G entirely in countries without 5G networks to reduce its production costs as antennas are required to work with the modem hardware ... DigiTimes' report suggests that the 2021 iPhones could perhaps have different hardware that only supports one network, rather than Apple disabling hardware, but we'll have to wait to see what happens with the 2020 iPhones to get a better picture of what we can expect for the 2021 iPhone lineup as the rumors about which iPhones will support which networks are somewhat confusing at this time.

Apple is also rumored to potentially omit 5G from the base model iPhones this year and reserve the technology for its Pro models. While this would make sense, it would seem odd for the company to create a piecemeal approach to what technology is featured in the iPhone by region, especially since the iPhone is one of the most popular devices to use for international travel.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.

  • I was planning on upgrading to an iPhone 12 (non-Pro model) but that won’t happen if they cripple it by omitting 5G support.
  • I don’t plan on upgrading anytime soon. I have an 11Pro and it is as about as good as a phone can get. No need to upgrade to 5G when it isn’t even deployed all over yet and 4G has been stellar for me.
  • I've given the 11 Pro some thought but the idea of a phone the same size/smaller than my iPhone SE (2020) with (rumored) 128GB storage on the base model is really tempting. The other rumored iPhone 12 spec that gives me pause is the relatively low battery capacity.
  • I can’t imagine 5G being battery efficient. Apple is all In about battery life. My 11Pro from the pre-order launch day still has 100% battery life and gets used pretty heavy all day. I am satisfied with what I have. Photos and video are excellent. The size is perfect and I have average to smaller hands. My cell data is perfectly fine. I hope the next iPhone satisfies your wishes.
  • That’s interesting! I wouldn’t consider 5G to be a dealbreaker for me, but the technology is also not too much around me yet. Do you live in an area where you’d greatly benefit from it, or is there a different reason?