Qualcomm just wrapped up its annual Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii where it announced its Snapdragon 865 chip, which will power virtually every new flagship Android phone. But the bigger news has nothing to do with Android. Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon told PCMag one of its top priorities is to help Apple launch a 5G phone as quickly as possible.
A 5G iPhone ASAP — "Priority No. 1 of this relationship with Apple is how to launch their phone as fast as we can. That's the priority," Amon said. "We're very happy with the progress we're making, and I expect that they're going to have a great device."
"We re-engaged probably later than both of us would like, and I think we've been working together to try to get as much as possible done ... so that we can actually launch a phone on schedule with 5G," Amon added.
Not late to the party — Apple is widely expected to release a 5G iPhone in 2020. While it may seem Apple is late to the 5G game (Samsung, OnePlus, and many other phone makers released 5G phones this year), a 5G iPhone in 2020 would arrive just in time as 5G networks light up in more places worldwide.
You can buy a 5G phone today, but the likelihood of it getting a reliable 5G connection in many places is low. Not to mention, so-called 5G networks that have launched, like AT&T's misleading "5GE" and T-Mobile's "nationwide 5G network," are barely faster than their current 4G LTE networks. T-Mobile's newly launched 5G network, which runs on the 600MHz spectrum, has "5G" download speeds that are only 20% faster than its LTE, which currently averages around 24.3Mbps according to OpenSignal.
Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband network can achieve significantly faster downloads (between 400 to 600Mbps according to The Verge). But because the technology uses millimeter wave technology, the speeds can only be experienced at short range and in very dense areas; Verizon's 5G isn't as fast when deployed in rural areas.
Together again after fighting — Apple's 5G iPhone plans were previously derailed after it became apparent Intel's modem division wasn't up to the task of creating a 5G chip that could compete with Qualcomm's 5G modems and launch in time for 2020. In June, Apple purchased Intel's modem division for $1 billion and reached a multi-year agreement with Qualcomm to develop modems for future devices. The deal ended years of legal battling between the two companies over patent royalties.