iPhone 12, 12 Pro and 12 mini support mmWave 5G, but only in the US [u]

Apple’s latest iPhone 12 models are the first to feature 5G connectivity, but access to ultra-fast mmWave bands are limited to customers in the U.S.

Support for speedy 5G connectivity was a central selling point when Apple announced the new handsets on Tuesday. According to a support document, however, access to bands that offer the greatest data transfer potential are limited to certain models.

As noted by Apple, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone mini integrate Qualcomm radios compatible with the n260 and n261 bands, which operate at 39GHz and 28GHz, respectively. Known as mmWave, these high-frequency bands feature wavelengths that can be measured in millimeters instead of centimeters or larger, and provide ample data transfer capability with bandwidths exceeding 3GHz.

While Apple’s 5G-compatible iPhones support a wide range of bands, including those that operate in the robust sub-6GHz spectrum, mmWave is restricted to U.S. models.

Apple says it “had to do things a little differently” to enable 5G communication on iPhone, like engineering custom antennas and radio parts.

“Then we gave iPhone 12 Pro the most 5G bands of any smartphone, so you’ll get 5G in more places,” the company says on its website.

On the software side, Apple optimized its software stack to take full advantage of 5G’s speed while maximizing efficiency. The company claims “many apps” will net 5G gains without drawing additional power.

Apple is jumping on the 5G bandwagon, but is doing so in a typically slow and steady way. Sensitive to the immense power draw required to make 5G work, the company is implementing smart algorithms to enable the hungry radios only when needed.

Whether mmWave compatibility will extend to countries beyond the U.S. remains to be seen, but that is a distinct

iPhone 12 Lineup’s mmWave 5G Support Limited to the United States

As expected, the entire iPhone 12 lineup is compatible with faster 5G networks, but Apple’s website confirms that support for high-frequency mmWave bands is limited to models sold in the United States. This includes compatibility with Verizon’s new 5G Ultra Wideband network, which as of today is available in 55 cities across the country.


mmWave is supported on all iPhone 12 models sold in the United States, ranging from the iPhone 12 mini to the iPhone 12 Pro Max. iPhone 12 models sold in all other countries and regions are limited to sub-6GHz bands for 5G.

mmWave is a set of 5G frequencies that promise ultra-fast speeds at short distances, making it best suited for dense urban areas. By comparison, sub-6GHz 5G is generally slower than mmWave, but the signals travel further, better serving suburban and rural areas. In most countries that offer 5G, sub-6GHz networks are more common.

Apple says iPhone 12 models support more 5G bands than any other smartphone, and the devices can automatically adjust to LTE when necessary to save battery life, such as when updates are taking place in the background.

iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro pre-orders begin Friday, October 16 at 5 a.m. Pacific Time, with shipments starting Friday, October 23. The smaller 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini and larger 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max are launching later, with pre-orders beginning Friday, November 6 at 5 a.m. Pacific Time and shipments starting Friday, November 13.

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