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Wed 9 Sep 2020 09:18 AM

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First 5G iPhone expected at Apple online event September 15

Chinese market is expected to account for about 20% of iPhone upgrades in the coming year

First 5G iPhone expected at Apple online event September 15

Apple has routinely held events this time of year to unveil new iPhones. Image: Apple

Apple has fired off invitations to a September 15 online event expected to star the first iPhone tailored for superfast 5G telecom networks.

The typically tight-lipped technology titan revealed only that the presentation would be streamed starting at 5pm GMT from its headquarters in Silicon Valley.

Copies of the emailed invitation spread quickly on social media, featuring a video-snippet version of the Apple logo in blue that unravelled into the event date.

The invitation was also posted at the Apple website, where the event will be streamed.

Apple has routinely held events this time of year to unveil new iPhones, and expectations are that this time around the spotlight will shine on a 5G model, with other new handsets possible as well.

Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said in a note to investors that a check of Apple's supply chain in Asia strengthened his confidence in an iPhone 12 "supercycle" kicked off by the release of several new models in October.

Ives saw the China market as a "key ingredient in Apple's recipe for success", expecting it to account for about 20 percent of iPhone upgrades in the coming year.

5G networks are touted as promising an exponential leap in the amount and speed of wireless data, enabling advances in self-driving vehicles, virtual reality, connected health and more as sensors and servers communicate instantly.

Technology analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group cautioned that Apple might not have the chip technology in place for a 5G iPhone despite wanting one on the market.

Apple last year made a $1 billion deal to acquire the majority of Intel's smartphone modem business, a move giving the iPhone maker more control over its supply chain.

The deal came after Intel announced it was abandoning efforts to compete with modem chips for smartphones synched to 5G networks.

Apple has been investing in its own mobile chips to ramp up performance and features in its devices and reduce its dependence on sector leader Qualcomm.

"If you have a premium phone, I don't see how you do it without 5G," Enderle said.

Smartphone rivals typically launch updated models before the year-end gift-giving season, which could be tempered this time around by economic disruption caused by the pandemic.

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