A new report from Bloomberg suggests that Apple is planning to take its usual measured approach to adopting new wireless standards, with 5G-capable iPhones not arriving until at least 2020. While carriers are expected to begin rolling out larger-scale 5G network deployments in 2019, sources suggest that Apple will wait at least a year after those networks are deployed — presumably to give them time to iron out the bugs — before releasing iPhone models that support the new standards. This approach will come as little surprise to long-term iPhone users, who will also remember Apple’s delays in adopting both 3G technology — the original iPhone was EDGE only in an era when many competitors were already fully supporting 3G — and the later wider deployment of LTE, which didn’t arrive until the iPhone 5 was released in 2012.
While Apple’s cautious approach to new wireless technologies was justified in the past with new networks and early versions of rival smartphones plagued with problems such as spotty coverage and shorter battery life, some analysts are suggesting that the bigger leap forward that’s heralded by 5G technology may leave Apple on the sidelines. Many 5G advocates expect the speed boost and technology behind 5G to “open the floodgates to new types of mobile computing.” Other analysts, however, suggest that the lack of 5G connectivity for a single year won’t be a serious deterrent, with many users on a longer upgrade cycle that could have them easily waiting a year before planning an upgrade to a newer model, along with the question of how many of the speed improvements gained from 5G technology are likely to represent a benefit for the average mobile user.