The report cites “industry insiders” who say that iPhone 12 models may not support the 700MHz 5G band. Lower-spectrum bands such as 700MHz are crucial to 5G coverage since they are far-reaching and penetrate well through walls and buildings, and 700MHz is expected to be the most common form of 5G in the UK.
“If it doesn’t support 700MHz then you end up with coverage problems,” said principal analyst at Assembly, Matthew Howett. “The spectrum bands that the iPhone works on are crucially important.”
If the iPhone 12 does not support the 700MHz 5G band, it will likely result in carrier Three being afforded a major advantage in the UK market. Three has acquired large amounts of the 5G spectrum, so it would be better able to handle a lack of 700MHz support by using a range of other bands.
The situation may be similar to the launch of the iPhone 5 in 2012, when EE was the only telecoms operator with enough coverage to reliably offer the latest connectivity in the UK. It now appears that Three could be the only operator with enough 5G coverage for the iPhone 12.
If the 700MHz band does turn out to be supported by the iPhone 12, British customers will not be able to use the band as it has not yet been acquired by an operator. The 700MHz band is set to be auctioned to telecoms operators by Ofcom in early 2021.
The iPhone 12 lineup is almost certain to appear on Tuesday at Apple’s “Hi, Speed” event, where more specific details about 5G spectrum support will likely emerge.