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Apple’s iPhone 12: Does 5G Justify the Cost?

By Andrea Villar | Fri, 10/16/2020 - 05:00

The first 5G iPhone is here. On Tuesday, Apple presented its new range of smartphones with 5G technology aimed at increasing connection speed, minimizing latency and multiplying the number of connected devices. “The next generation is here. Today is the beginning of a new era for iPhone,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. "This is a huge moment for all of us and we are really excited." Cook pointed out that this new technology provides improved performance when downloading and uploading content, improved video quality and higher speeds in densely populated areas. But can networks deliver the 5G speeds the new iPhone offers? 

Although the new smartphone promises 5G coverage as its main and most innovative feature, in Mexico there is still a long way to go before it reaches its full potential. “In Mexico, there is a lack of clarity about the millimeter-wave spectrum (mmWave) and when will it be available to operators in Mexico so they, and perhaps new service providers, can deploy networks in these frequencies and take full advantage of the benefits that 5G offers in millimeter wave,” told Mexico Business News Ricardo Anaya, Qualcomm’s Product Manager in Mexico.

In the short term, Telcel is expected to announce the launch of its network through the recent spectrum swap, but it is not yet certain when this will happen. A scenario of a Mexico with 5G is still a long way off. In Mexico, full 4G coverage has not yet been achieved. Furthermore, the tendering of spectrum in the country, suitable for 5G networks, is still pending and the bases of the tender are still in public consultation.

In Mexico, says Anaya, we already have Advanced LTE (4.5G) networks with a very good user experience. “Operators have talked about a 5G launch in 2020, so the high availability of 5G devices in the market is aligned. More than 100 active commercial networks in the world and about 400 operators worldwide have publicly announced that they are actively planning 5G”, Anaya pointed out.

According to a Nokia study, the deployment of 5G will radically transform at least three segments of the telecommunications market in Mexico: the massive mobile broadband, the fixed residential broadband and the large business network. Moreover, it can contribute 1 percent to the country's GDP, making it one of the important drivers of economic recovery. In the long term, it will generate an economic and social impact of US$730 billion in Mexico by 2035, distributed among several sectors including information and communications technologies (ICT) with US$137 billion, manufacturing with US$134 billion, services with US$113 billion, trade with US$75 billion, real estate with US$52 billion and construction with US$51 billion.

Apple conducted tests with 800 mobile operators in 30 regions to validate the speed of its iPhone. The result was that the smartphone is capable of downloading data up to “4Gbps in ideal conditions and at least 1 Gbps in less favorable conditions”. With this announcement, Apple joins other companies like Samsung and Google that already support 5G in some of their products. However, Apple’s offerings “validate the technology,” Moor Insights & Strategy Analyst Mark Vena told the Wall Street Journal.

In late August, sources told Reuters that Apple partner and iPhone assembler Foxconn was considering opening a new factory in Mexico. Foxconn has plans to use the factory to manufacture iPhones and is likely to make a final decision later this year. Pegatron, a contractor for several phone manufacturers, including Apple, is also considering a facility in Mexico mainly to assemble chips and other electronic components, reports the news outlet.

This all sounds like a dream finally starting to come true. However, Boris Metodiev, Associate Director of research firm Strategy Analytics, told Reuters “using the next iPhone or any 5G enabled device on today’s network will be like having a Ferrari but using it in your local village without being able to drive to up to 200 miles per hour, simply because the roads cannot handle those speeds.

Photo by:   Apple
Andrea Villar Andrea Villar Journalist and Industry Analyst

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