iPhone 12 might have problems connecting to 5G in the UK — here’s why

iPhone 12 design
(Image credit: EverythingApplePro)

Anyone hoping to buy an iPhone 12 after tomorrow night’s launch event may want to stop and think for a second. Why? Because the iPhone 12 may have trouble connecting to the UK’s 5G network.

Apparently Cupertino’s first 5G iPhone won’t support the 700Mhz brand – a band that is set to play a key role in the UK’s 5G rollout.

This news comes from industry insiders speaking to The Telegraph, noting that it would be a serious problem for U.K. networks if the iPhone 12 doesn’t connect to that portion of the spectrum. 

700MHz is set to be the most common form of 5G here, thanks to the fact it’s lower down on the spectrum and can offer better coverage over long distances and through walls. 

It’s worth noting that long-reaching 5G spectrum typically has lower bandwidth and can’t offer the same speeds available on higher frequencies. Likewise higher frequencies don’t travel nearly as far, and require more infrastructure for comparable levels of coverage.

Even though there are going to be at least four 5G models launching this year, the iPhone 12 not supporting 700MHz is going to be a problem in the UK. It is, arguably, the most popular kind of phone out there, and not being able to connect to large portions of the UK’s 5G network is going to slow down adoption rates. 

Similarly, depending on how Apple chooses to market the phone, it could impact sales of the device in the UK. After all, why shell out for a 5G iPhone if it won’t connect to your local 5G network? 

That’s a long shot, though, because it’s an iPhone and people love buying iPhones.

This is good news for Three, however, since the company has already acquired larger amounts of 5G-ready spectrum. It’s a similar situation to the launch of 4G on the iPhone 5, when EE was the only network with enough coverage to reliably support that particular feature.

The good news is we won’t be feeling the effects of this issue for a while, because Ofcom won’t be auctioning off the 700MHz spectrum band until January 2021

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.