iPhone 12 rumors: mmWave 5G may only appear on the iPhone 12 Pro Max

Reports about what will be in the 2020 iPhones are hitting the wire. We’ve compiled the most notable ones here, but take these with a big grain of salt. Even if these reports are accurate representations of what suppliers are saying, or come from moles within Apple itself, the company’s plans can and do change. There’s still plenty of time before the design and features have to be totally set in stone.

Update 09/03/20: Fast Company reports that only one iPhone 12 model—the 6.7 inch 12 Pro Max—will have support for mmWave 5G technology. The other models will all be limited to the far more common sub-6GHz 5G radio bands.

mmWave 5G only on the iPhone 12 Pro Max

A new report from Fast Company, citing “a wireless industry source,” says that only the largest and most expensive iPhone 12 model—the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max—will support millimeter-wave 5G. All the iPhone 12 models will support 5G in the sub-6GHz spectrum. The source says only the largest phone has the size necessary for the antenna array used in mmWave and the larger battery necessary to offset the increased power draw it requires.

What’s more, only the U.S., Korea, and Japan versions of the iPhone 12 Pro Max will have mmWave 5G support. In other territories, it will support the sub-6GHz spectrum only.

5G technology broadly comes in two variants: millimeter-wave radio frequencies over 24GHz, and the same sub-6GHz frequency bands used in today’s 4G LTE networks. The mmWave stuff gives you extremely fast speeds, but has extremely short range, with cellular radios required every few blocks. What’s more, mmWave does not penetrate objects well and are easily blocked by windows, doors, walls, trees, etc.

So while mmWave 5G technology delivers impressive bandwidth numbers, it is currently only useful in limited circumstances. Most users, most of the time, will use 5G networks in the same frequencies in which their 4G LTE phones operate. These signals travel much further and penetrate buildings better, providing much better coverage. Speeds are expected to be anywhere from 50-300% better, rather than the 10x improvement you might see from mmWave.

For more on 5G technology, see our 5G FAQ.

120Hz display and new camera features

Jon Prosser, who has accurately leaked several Apple devices and features in the past, tweeted screenshots of some test settings pages for PVTs (product validation devices).