Apple's 2019 iPhones to adopt MPI antenna technology in lieu of LCP

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited November 10
Apple's next-generation of iPhones due out during the second half of 2019 will reportedly jettison LCP-based antenna technology that it first adopted for the iPhone X for MPI, which should improve both costs and production yields.

via iFixit
via iFixit


"We predict that the modified polyimide (MPI) will replace Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) and become the mainstream antenna technology of 2H19 new iPhone models," TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo wrote in a research note to clients that has been seen by AppleInsider.

Among the reported benefits of the shift to MPI technology are better "bargaining power" against LCP material suppliers for component sourcing, a more reliable production process, and improved ease of new flexible printed circuit board (FPCB) introductions due to the substrates being more robust, which will similarly improve yield rates.

"In total, six LCP antennae are currently being equipped in 2H18 new iPhone models (XS Max, XS, and XR)," Ming said. "We predict that [2019] new iPhone models, including the new 6.5" OLED, 5.8" OLED, and 6.1" LCD models, will adopt four MPI antennae and two LCP antennae."

The analyst, who has long been respected for his insights into Apple's future product plans, added that he believes that the two LCP antennae on the 2019 iPhone models will be shipped exclusively by the Japanese supplier thanks to its better vertical integration capability.

The material shift to MPI would also serve to widen Apple's supplier base from the present two, to a possible five, according to Kuo. Apple has taken several moves over the last few years to broaden its supplier base for components to not just give it more leverage in pricing negotiations, but to also ensure that supplies of a crucial component can't be disrupted if any given supplier has production problems.

Antenna materials and design are complex, made more challenging by the still fluctuating demands of a nascent 5G installation in the United States. Kuo notes that MPI and LCP antennae will still be utilized, with lower-end phones continuing with conventional polyimide antenna technology or possibly moving to a variant of the MPI material during the transition to 5G.

Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) is a low-cost organic flexible substrate and has a few unique electrical properties that make it desirable for antennae. It behaves consistently across the entire radio frequency range, it has very low loss, making it useful for mmWave (5G applications) and it has a low thermal expansion coefficient, making it stable across temperatures. These design qualities make it suitable for a broad range of applications, from RFID tags to phones.

Compared to legacy materials like polyimide, LCP offers a number of operational advantages including superior frequency attenuation, thermal performance and moisture resistance. The substrate's assets tick off the right boxes for Apple, which year after year pumps out a set of increasingly complex portable products that rely heavily on fast, capable data lanes. LCP can be used in other aspects of design as well, and may be adopted for the USB 3.2 spec, or iterations of Thunderbolt technology.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    davendaven Posts: 472member
    Antenna technology is amazing. I for one don't miss the old flip up or pull out antennae of the first cell phones.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 14
    TomETomE Posts: 128member
    Gee, we are old.  I almost forgot about needing to put the antennae up on the old Motorola Flip phone.
    I picked up my new W4 44mm w LTE yesterday - StarTrek is almost here !
    Siri - Energize !

    For those of use who do not live near a big city or a tower(s) , a good antenna system is important.

    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 14
    Katie Marsal said:
    The analyst [Ming-Chi Kuo], who has long been respected for his insights into Apple's future product plans...
    Wait, what?
    mac_dogmacplusplusSolichasmleavingthebiggberndog
  • Reply 4 of 14
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 774member
    Am I the only one who want’s to see a power antenna on the iphone, like on an ‘84 Lincoln? :p .
    jdgazGeorgeBMacberndog
  • Reply 5 of 14
    Shouldn’t that title be “... adopt MPI antenna technology in place of LCP”?  “In favor of” would mean moving to LCP, not away. 
    lorin schultzwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 14
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,208member
    This is an odd article. It talks about why moving to MPI is good, then talks up why LCP is so good as an antenna.
    dt17SoundJudgmentGeorgeBMacSolin2itivguyleavingthebigg
  • Reply 7 of 14
    melgross said:
    This is an odd article. It talks about why moving to MPI is good, then talks up why LCP is so good as an antenna.
    My thoughts exactly...it sounds like MPI could be cheaper for Apple but that the (presumed) outgoing material (LCP) is superior.
    edited November 10 dt17SoundJudgmentGeorgeBMacn2itivguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 14
    At least we are still currently in Year 2H18! I was worried there for a second that 2H19 was looming upon us all.
    edited November 10 watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 14
    elffir said:
    Shouldn’t that title be “... adopt MPI antenna technology in place of LCP”?  “In favor of” would mean moving to LCP, not away. 
    Thank you, it confused me. Also, it didn’t help referring to MPI then polyimide in the article.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 14
    dougddougd Posts: 206member
    That'll give them a reason to raise prices again.  #applegreed
  • Reply 11 of 14
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 227member
    dougd said:
    That'll give them a reason to raise prices again.  #applegreed
    Yay! More profits. What businesses do. 

    Though  as its written MPi is already cheaper they’ll get the profits from lower materials costs aside from any price rise. 
    edited November 10
  • Reply 12 of 14
    chasmchasm Posts: 993member
    Another of Ming-Chi's incredibly safe and obvious guesses. As for his track record: go back and look at his predictions for the iPad/Mac recent event. He got a few things right, but quite a few things wrong -- a new Mac mini, new AirPods, and new MacBooks among them (and that's not a complete list of his fails).

    He's at his best when he's guessing about things that are safe -- like Apple using a cheaper, equally-good antenna in the next phones -- and nowhere near as good when he's making way-early stabs at next year's iPhones. People also tend to forget how often he says one thing and walks it back/revises it later when it becomes obvious that won't happen.

    That said, he's still one of the most accurate stock pundits on hardware -- but that speaks more to how awful the others are (I'm looking at you, Gene ...) than to his psychic abilities.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 14
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,208member
    chasm said:
    Another of Ming-Chi's incredibly safe and obvious guesses. As for his track record: go back and look at his predictions for the iPad/Mac recent event. He got a few things right, but quite a few things wrong -- a new Mac mini, new AirPods, and new MacBooks among them (and that's not a complete list of his fails).

    He's at his best when he's guessing about things that are safe -- like Apple using a cheaper, equally-good antenna in the next phones -- and nowhere near as good when he's making way-early stabs at next year's iPhones. People also tend to forget how often he says one thing and walks it back/revises it later when it becomes obvious that won't happen.

    That said, he's still one of the most accurate stock pundits on hardware -- but that speaks more to how awful the others are (I'm looking at you, Gene ...) than to his psychic abilities.
    Considering that his info is not likely coming from Apple, he’s pretty accurate. Most of what he says comes true. It’s harder to know exactly when though. But expecting something because he says it, is a pretty fair bet.
    edited November 11 watto_cobramuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 14 of 14
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 189member
    chasm said:
    Another of Ming-Chi's incredibly safe and obvious guesses. As for his track record: go back and look at his predictions for the iPad/Mac recent event. He got a few things right, but quite a few things wrong -- a new Mac mini, new AirPods, and new MacBooks among them (and that's not a complete list of his fails).

    He's at his best when he's guessing about things that are safe -- like Apple using a cheaper, equally-good antenna in the next phones -- and nowhere near as good when he's making way-early stabs at next year's iPhones. People also tend to forget how often he says one thing and walks it back/revises it later when it becomes obvious that won't happen.

    That said, he's still one of the most accurate stock pundits on hardware -- but that speaks more to how awful the others are (I'm looking at you, Gene ...) than to his psychic abilities.
    From looking at what he gets right versus what he gets wrong, almost all of his sources are likely to be in the supply chain rather than on the design side of things. He often accurately predicts part-level changes to existing products, but not how some of these new parts will be used or whole new products.
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