iPhone 20-20 is 5G
Some financial analysts were expecting that Apple might be later even than 2020 with its 5G modem, but to our best knowledge, things are on schedule. Apple could not incorporate 5G in the 2019 iPhones merely as they didn’t make a deal with Qualcomm.
Qualcomm managed to accelerate its 5G NR modem deployment and 3GPP Cat 18 and commercial launches of both infrastructure and OEM devices by a whole year. Intel could not follow that pace and had no chance to compete on a square level in 2019. Therefore it just had to put all its efforts into the 2020 XMM 8160 solution.
Other reports that MediaTek and Samsung might step up for Apple are bogus, 5G modem, RF front ends and especially millimeter wave antennas are not like a shirt button that you can change in a heartbeat or 10. It takes years to make it work.
Modems are not shirt buttons to change easily
Any 4G / 5G is exponentially complicated, and there are no easy switches from vendor A to B. The iPhone 2020 will use an Intel modem since Apple didn’t reach a settlement with Qualcomm. Setting the legal disagreements aside, cooperation on iPhone 2020 is unlikely to happen.
There is a slight chance that if Apple makes peace with Qualcomm that it still could have enough time to implement Qualcomm 5G modem, RF and antennas, but from where we are standing right now it is unlikely.
It takes at least a year to finish a phone design. Theoretically, Apple would have to start working on Qualcomm 5G powered solution by September 2019 if not earlier.
Both 4G and 5G iPhone 20 expected
Of course, iPhone 20 (we like the name and will use it ed.) will have both 4G only and 5G versions as there will be many parts of the world that won’t have 5G in 2020. The coverage will be still limited, but it is expected to grow tremendously compared to 2019 initial 5G infrastructure/carrier launches.