iPads tipped to embrace 5G in 2021

May 02, 2019

Apple is primed to release 5G iPhones next year, but tablet fans may still have to wait at least two years before the latest generation of mobile internet capability comes to the ever-popular iPads.

That’s the forecast from renowned analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who noted Apple would be seeking to upgrade the interior of their iPads in order to accommodate the improved networking required for 5G.

What is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of cellular mobile telecommunications, so it’s the type of internet you utilise when using mobile devices like smart phones and tablets. The technology supersedes 4G, 3G and 2G, offering more data, a faster transfer rate, greater efficiency and less latency.

The upshot is, your mobile internet will be faster and more efficient, so there’ll be more bandwidth available for things like video streaming on-the-go.

At present 5G is rolling out across countries like the US, UK and Australia. The only catch is many devices do not yet support it.

In the US, for example, Telcos Verizon and AT&T are leading the charge in terms of rollout but so far services are limited.

CNET explains: “AT&T's network is live in a dozen cities, including Atlanta, Dallas and New Orleans, but the customers are all small businesses…”.

Meanwhile Verizon, launched a 5G home service last fall, and turned on its network in Chicago and Minneapolis in early April, but the cities only have pockets of 5G coverage.

Which phones accommodate 5G?

A host of phone manufacturers have announced they will incorporate 5G into their upcoming devices, Motorola already sells a 5G compatible model of sorts in the form of the Moto Z3 (Tech Radar explains it’s a 4G model paired with a new 5G Moto Mod, which adds 5G connectivity to the phone).

Meanwhile, Samsung is set to offer 5G in the Galaxy S10, which is due for release on May 16. LG, Huawei, OnePlus, and Xiaomi are amongst other manufacturers set to release 5G models over the coming months.

Apple and 5G

There’s no doubt that Apple will inevitably launch 5G devices, but experts tip It won’t be available in the 2019 iPhone model, and customers will instead have to wait until next year’s big reveal.

That’s partly due to a recent legal dispute with Qualcomm that has only just been resolved as Venture Beat explains: “Apple settled its international patent licensing disputes with Qualcomm so it could guarantee a 5G iPhone in 2020, but its iPad tablets could be stuck with 4G until later — potentially after 2021.

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iPads and 5G

Of course, it’s not just smart phones that will harness the power of 5G, some tablet variants will as well, allowing them to access faster mobile internet. And the iPad range will be amongst them but not until 2021, according to Kuo.
He tips Apple will soon start using a new component called an “LCP soft board” to accommodate the shift.

This sees liquid-crystalline polymer resin used to connect wireless antennas to their logic boards. Ultimately, they are designed to reduce signal loss and improve networking performance.

The technology could be incorporated as soon as the fourth quarter of 2019 or first quarter of 2020, allowing for testing that paves the way for 5G in iPads in 2021.

Kuo also anticipates Apple will retain the current sizing of its iPad line-up, with 11-inch and 12.9-inch screen sizes.

“In either case, the iPhone will beat the iPad to 5G, reversing Apple’s (somewhat controversial) 2012 order of releases for early 4G iPads and iPhones,” Venture Beat says.

Even without the 5G hardware, Venture Beat also says the LCP soft boards could help the next iPads to offer superior LTE Advanced Pro cellular or Wi-Fi 6 performance, “potentially doubling wireless connectivity speeds even without full 5G support”.

“If the “after 2021” translation of Kuo’s report is accurate, the iPad Pro might add 5G more than a year after the expected debut of the first 5G iPhone — a long wait for Apple’s first 5G tablet.

“Kuo questionably suggests the iPad’s wait could be attributable to higher expectations for wireless performance from productivity tools and entertainment platforms than mobile phones.

“Practically, however, it could be as much about Apple’s need to concentrate its wireless engineering and testing resources on the first 5G iPhone, which sells in much higher volumes than iPads, particularly cellular ones.”

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