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  • 5G iPhone unlikely until 2020, given Intel modem announcement

    An iPhone capable of connecting to a carrier's 5G mobile network will not happen this year, an announcement from Intel indicates, with the chip producer's modems using the high-speed cellular communications technology not expected to appear in smartphones and mobile devices until 2020.

    Mockup with 5G logo on an iPhone XS Max
    Mockup with 5G logo on an iPhone XS Max

    Apple is currently believed to be leaving out 5G connectivity as a feature of the 2019 iPhones, in favor of waiting another year before adding support for the wireless technology. While speculation and analysis indicates that is likely to be the case, Intel has seemingly confirmed it won't be able to help Apple if it decided to add 5G to the iPhone this year.

    Intel executives advised to Reuters on Friday devices using its 5G modems won't go on sale until 2020. While Intel does not name specific companies that are affected by the announcement, as it is a major supplier of modems to Apple, it effectively infers this year's iPhone models won't be 5G-enabled if they use Intel's modems.

    Intel networking chip chief Sandra Riviera advised sample 5G modem chips will ship to vendors this year. Non-consumer 5G products, including networking equipment, will ship this year, but consumer-oriented devices using Intel's modem are not expected by Riviera to launch this year at all.

    Earlier reports opened up the possibility of a 5G modem being included in a 2019 iPhone, with the launch of the XMM 8160 5G modem in November being made half a year earlier than originally scheduled. At the time, Intel advised its plan was to ship the 5G modem in the second half of 2019, with commercial devices using it thought to start shipping in the first half of 2020.

    Intel is not the only company to have created a 5G-capable modem. On Tuesday, Qualcomm revealed the Snapdragon X55 5G modem with the potential to offer download speeds of up to 7 gigabits per second and support for "all major frequency bands," but the ongoing legal battle with Apple means it won't be making an appearance in an iPhone anytime soon.

    In testimony from Apple supply chain executive Tony Blevins for the FTC's antitrust trial against Qualcomm published in January, it was revealed Apple looked into the possibility of tapping MediaTek or Samsung to supply 5G modems, as a further way to avoid Qualcomm's modems if Intel failed to deliver. It was not advised whether Apple would use a 5G modem for 2019, nor if a deal was reached with either of the two potential modem suppliers.

    The 2020 iPhones may not even use a modem designed by Intel or anyone else at all, as Apple is believed to be working on bringing the design of the component in-house, as it has done for other elements like the A-series processors. In early February, it was reported Apple's internal hardware teams were being restructured, with the relocation of the modem team to directly under the head of hardware suggesting a push towards a 5G modem may be on the cards.
  • Apple's 'modular' Mac Pro design may mean units that connect like Lego bricks

    A new report claims that the Mac Pro refresh will rely on a custom data connector, and mission-specific modules that can be stacked to provide what users need -- but also that it may not ship to customers until 2020.

    How the current Mac mini is already being used as a stackable system of sorts
    How the current Mac mini is already being used as a stackable system of sorts

    YouTube channel Tailosive Tech has released a video that claims in-depth details of the new Mac Pro which are reportedly based on information from sources within Apple. The main news is that the Mac Pro is to come as a series of stackable modules, each only slightly bigger than the current Mac mini, letting customers choose the configurations they need.

    "What my personal insider sources told me is that the Mac Pro in the sense of modular, is a stacking system [as] opposed to a computer case with parts on the inside and door that opens up," says the presenter on Tailosive Tech. "There's multiple modules you can buy when you getting the Mac Pro. The only one you have to buy is the brain module which is supposedly a little bulkier than the standard Mac mini."

    "It has some ports on it and it mostly houses the RAM and the CPU," he adds. "But Apple has already made its own proprietary connectors that are placed on top of this brain module and this will allow you to buy different modules that have I/O, that have GPUs, extra storage."

    Tailosive also claims that while the Mac Pro will be unveiled this year, it may not actually ship until 2020. This is not entirely dissimilar to the 2013 Mac Pro, which shipped in profoundly limited quantities in the year it was released. When it did ship, it was only in the last few days of the year, allowing Apple to say that it hit the 2013 deadline it set for itself.

    As for the details of how each module in stack will work, Tailosive Tech claims to know that they will be powered from the base or 'brain' module but feature independent power supplies and cooling.

    "What it results in is ultimate customizability," he says. "So if a professional out there just wants a Mac Pro because it's a small device, they don't need to spend all that money on an iMac Pro..., they'll be able to buy just the brain module. But those people out there who really need that graphics processing, they'll be able to buy one, two, perhaps three or four different GPU modules and stack it on their Mac Pro however they want to stack it."

    Sonnet RX 570 eGPU puck on top of an existing Mac mini
    Sonnet RX 570 eGPU puck on top of an existing Mac mini

    This isn't the first time that this rumor has surfaced. In previous incarnations of the speculation, it was suspected that the modules would work for RAM as well.

    The existing Thunderbolt 3 connection is in essence a PCI-E 3.0 x4 connection to a peripheral. In order for the system to work for RAM, the connector would not just have to diverge from Thunderbolt, but make major architectural changes to how it communicates to the system as well.

    Because of those architectural changes, it isn't clear how routinely swappable they will be. A connector allowing for RAM expansion would need a high-speed -- and not hot-swappable -- bus to connect with the CPU.

    Apple has executed the concept of a custom high-speed data connector in a rudimentary fashion before. The PowerBook Duo system from the '90s had a custom connector, which allowed for a wide array of expansion for a docked computer -- but it did not have a bus speed suitable for RAM expansion.

    While Apple has not commented on this report nor offered any detail of its plans, the company has gone out of its way three times to specify that the new Mac Pro will be "modular". It has also noticeably shied away from saying it will use PCI-E on the multiple occasions that it has talked about the hardware.

    Other sources including analyst Ming-Chi Kuo have claimed information about the forthcoming design which don't confirm those of Tailosive Tech but don't contradict it, either.
  • Editorial: Apple is making us wait for a new iMac for no good reason

    Apple's flagship machine, the iMac, has not been updated since June 2017, and it's not because of a lack of technical improvements that could be made. Apple has chosen to sideline the iMac for reasons known only to itself, but now is the time for a significant update.

    Internet hardware architects protestations to the contrary, designing and manufacturing Macs is not easy. So maybe there is some technical issue that means Apple hasn't been able to update the iMac, but it looks more like Apple is delaying the machine for commercial reasons.

    This shouldn't come as a big surprise. Of course Apple always times its hardware releases for when they will get maximum attention and gain maximum sales. Only, Apple doesn't make machines and then sit on them until the time's right. Instead, Apple is very, very good at planning years in advance and all manufacturers need to get their new technology to market while it's still new.

    Which means that Apple is choosing to delay the iMac, and it's been quite a delay. The last update was in June 2017 which is long enough ago that the smart money would've bet on at least a speed-bumped iMac being released at October 2018's Apple event. It didn't come then and current rumors most strongly suggest that neither it nor any Mac hardware at all is coming with the expected March 25 event.

    There doesn't have to be an event, though. The 2018 MacBook Pro was announced with a press release and so were its Vega 16 and 20 updates.

    Still, you look in vain if you want to find any iMac news in Ming-Chi Kuo's comprehensive report on Apple's plans for the whole of 2019.

    Yet the iMac is Apple's most popular desktop Mac. Maybe the 2018 Mac mini could challenge its status as Apple's flagship machine, but you can be sure that the iMac outsells the iMac Pro. And, you can be completely certain that even the current version will outsell the forthcoming Mac Pro.

    Only, there's a difference between outsell and outshine.

    Using the iMac (Source: Apple)
    Using the iMac (Source: Apple)

    Apple took a gamble when it revealed the updated iMac in 2017 and in the same event gave us a sneak peek of that December's iMac Pro. The company must have thought about whether that would cannibalize iMac sales and patently decided it was worth it. Apple may have looked at how many people wouldn't buy the iMac but would be drawn to the iMac Pro.

    It may well have concluded that the two machines sell to such completely different markets that cannibalizing sales isn't an issue. Except once the iMac Pro was actually on sale, it looks as if Apple wrote off the iMac. If it weren't for the huge price difference, you wouldn't have been surprised if the iMac Pro had been intended to be the successor to the iMac.

    You might even have been sure of that if the power of the regular iMac hadn't been strong enough to make some people decide they don't need an iMac Pro.

    So while Apple didn't mind treading on the iMac's time in the spotlight with a sneak peek of the iMac Pro, it has avoided doing the opposite. Which means that this year, Apple may also avoid sharing that spotlight between a hypothetical new iMac and the guaranteed new Mac Pro.

    Mac Process

    There are reports now that Apple has been considering whether or not to give a preview of the new Mac Pro at the 2019 WWDC. What that really tells us, though, is that the new Mac Pro won't be released then.

    That should mean that Apple has the opportunity to update the iMac in at least the first half of 2019 without treading on the toes of its other machines.

    And as well as good timing, Apple also has plenty of opportunity for how it could improve on the current iMac.

    For instance, not long after the iMac's last update, Intel announced eighth-generation Core i7, i5 processors which were pitched as being for Apple portables but versions of them ended up in the 2018 Mac mini.

    Then in August 2018, Intel announced what it called a collection of six U-series and Y-series processors which again are expected to be used in portables but certainly work with iMacs. That August announcement would potentially also fit with the processors appearing in Macs launched in the first quarter of 2019.

    There will always be better processors and in January 2019, ">Intel announced more. Surely Apple's got to take the plunge and make something out of one of these released processors.

    On display

    An iMac update that comes in the first half of 2019 is not going to tread on the toes of any other Apple Mac release. The trouble is that if it's any later than that, other releases will tread on its toes instead.

    Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said nothing about the iMac but he has spoken about competing products -- and that doesn't just mean other Macs. He claims that alongside the new Mac Pro, Apple is going to launch a new display that he's referring to as a 6K3K one. It will reportedly feature a 6,144 x 3,072 dpi resolution.

    More people are going to want that display than want the Mac Pro. And at 31.6 inches diagonally, that display is going to outshine one of the iMac's greatest selling points. That display is going to tempt people who might otherwise have gone for the iMac.

    But let us dream just a little, just for once. You have to ignore the fact that there is not one single report or even rumor, you have to accept that what we're about to say is entirely wishful speculation. However, if you also have a tape measure, you can see that the current 27-inch iMac is not 27 inches at all.

    That's of course the diagonal size of the display in that iMac but the physical size of the machine is actually 30.5 inches diagonally. This is surely just a bezel or two away from being the same sizes as that forthcoming display.

    Imagine it. An iMac with a larger 6K display. Now that would've been worth waiting for.

    Keep up with AppleInsider by downloading the AppleInsider app for iOS, and follow us on YouTube, Twitter @appleinsider and Facebook for live, late-breaking coverage. You can also check out our official Instagram account for exclusive photos.
  • Huawei cloning Apple parts, rewarding employees for tech theft

    China's Huawei uses "dubious" tactics to try to reverse engineer technology from Apple and other competitors in the electronics market, a report charged on Monday.

    Huawei MateBook Pro X

    In November, for example, a Huawei engineer heading up smartwatch development tracked down a supplier that helps build the Apple Watch's heart rate sensor, The Information said. The person arranged a meeting with the claim he could offer a manufacturing contract, but instead probed for details about the Apple Watch, an anonymous executive at the supplier said.

    The engineer was accompanied by four researchers, and together the group is said to have spent an hour and a half asking about the Watch. With nothing given Huawei went silent.

    Huawei has reportedly used similar tactics against companies like Cisco, Motorola, and Akhan Semiconductor. The U.S. Justice Department in fact claims that Huawei has a program that rewards employees for stealing data, with better bonuses based on how confidential information is.

    An earlier Apple-related incident, according to one source, involved Huawei copying a 2016 connector design used to make the MacBook Pro hinge thinner while linking the display to the logic board. A similar component then appeared in Huawei's 2018 MateBook Pro, something achieved by shopping Apple's schematic around to various suppliers -- most of which recognized the design and refused to build it. Eventually the company found a willing partner.

    Another alleged tactic is talking to people who formerly worked with Apple or its supply chain. In one case, a person interviewed with Huawei immediately after leaving Apple, only to be repeatedly asked about upcoming products and features. They refused and stopped taking interviews.

    "It was clear they were more interested in trying to learn about Apple than they were in hiring me," the person explained.

    Huawei has become the center of a maelstrom surrounding the Chinese government's business policies. The company is believed to have government ties, which has led to calls in the U.S. and elsewhere to ban it from supplying 5G infrastructure. Chinese operatives have regularly conducted cyber attacks in the U.S.

    Huawei and its CFO, Wanzhou Meng, were recently hit with a barrage of U.S. charges accusing it of bank fraud, wire fraud, violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Theft of trade secrets is another item on the docket, though mostly because of a 2013 incident related to a T-Mobile phone-testing robot.

    Legal action has only worsened relations between the two countries, which are in the middle of a trade war initiated by U.S. President Donald Trump. Among other demands, Trump has called on China to better protect the intellectual property of foreign firms.
  • Apple rumored to launch subscription News at March 25 event, 'AirPods 2' and new iPad mini...

    Apple is planning to hold a March 25 press event at the Steve Jobs Theater, located at Apple Park in Cupertino, a report claimed on Tuesday.

    Steve Jobs Theater

    The event will be "services focused," the highlight being the debut of a paid Apple News subscription, BuzzFeed News said, citing multiple sources. That plan could be called Apple News Magazines, and grant people access to a variety of magazines and newspapers for $10 per month.

    Likely missing from the event will be second-generation AirPods or a fifth-generation iPad mini, the report added. Apple has regularly introduced hardware at March events -- earlier today, one questionable story suggested that the AirPods, a new Mini, and more could begin preorders on March 22.

    The BuzzFeed sources declined to say anything about Apple's upcoming video streaming service. That service is due to launch in 2019 and has been rumored for the first half of the year, possibly in April if not March. Apple is spending over $1 billion on original shows, such as an adaptation of Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" novels.

    One problem faced by Magazines is the company's deals with publishers. The company is allegedly demanding as much as 50 percent of subscription revenue, while simultaneously refusing to hand over more customer data. If terms can't be reached soon, Apple may be forced to push back an announcement.

    Ultimately people are expected to have the option of an "Apple Prime" subscription, bundling Magazines, video, and Apple Music.