AP – Apple unveiled four new iPhones equipped with technology for use with faster new 5G wireless networks, hoping that demand for higher data speeds will spark demand for new phones.
That might not happen as quickly as Apple would like. In a virtual presentation on Tuesday, the company announced four 5G-enabled versions of the new iPhone 12 ranging in price from almost USD700 to roughly USD1,100. Apple also announced a new, less expensive version of its HomePod smart speaker. Smartphone sales have been slowing for years as their technology has matured.
That has meant far fewer gotta-have-it innovations that can drive demand and, at least until recently, increasingly pricey phones. Add to that pandemic-related economic crisis, and consumers have tended to eke as much life as possible out of their existing phones.
Apple, however, is clearly betting that 5G speeds could push many users off the fence. At its event, the company boasted about 5G capabilities and brought in Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg to champion the carrier’s network.
5G is supposed to mean much faster speeds, making it quicker to download movies or games, for instance. But finding those speeds can be a challenge. While telecom operators have been rolling out 5G networks, significant boosts in speed are still uncommon in much of the world, including the US So far, there are no popular new consumer applications that require 5G.
Updates in the new phones mostly amount to “incremental improvements” over predecessor iPhones, technology analyst Patrick Moorhead said, referring to 5G capabilities and camera upgrades on higher-end phones.
But he suggested that if carriers build out their 5G networks fast enough, it could launch a “supercycle” in which large numbers of people switch to 5G phones.