First 5G cellular MacBooks expected next year

Apple will reportedly release new Mac notebook models with 5G cellular connectivity sporting a ceramic antenna component for enhanced 5G performance in the second half of next year.

Citing unnamed industry sources, the Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes reported Friday:

The world’s top-3 notebook vendors Lenovo, HP and Dell are set to introduce their first 5G models in the second half of 2019, and Apple is also expected to roll out its 5G MacBook series in the second half of 2020, according to industry sources.

The wording doesn’t make it clear whether DigiTimes is referring to the MacBook family or Mac notebooks in general. For what it’s worth, Apple did discontinue the 12-inch MacBook earlier this mont, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s given up on MacBooks. It’s entirely possible the MacBook brand could be revived next year with embedded 5G connectivity as one of the key new features. But if you ask me, my money is on the MacBook Air getting an embedded 5G modem before this technology gets rolled out to the rest of the company’s notebook lineup.

If true, that would mark the first time Apple has released a non-iOS device with embedded cellular functionality. For years, the Cupertino tech giant has resisted calls to embed cellular modems in the Mac notebook range, instead opting to make iPhones and Mac notebooks work better together with Continuity features like Personal Hotspot.

Now Apple’s settled a licensing dispute with Qualcomm and paid a billion dollars for Intel’s 5G smartphone business, its efforts to design in-house 5G cellular modems for future products are likely to yield fruits. Some analysts think first iPhones with 5G connectivity will arrive as soon as 2021. But ask Ming-Chi Kuo and he’ll tell you that all 2020 iPhones will have 5G. It’s unclear if those products would incorporate Apple-designed 5G modems. Kuo thinks that Apple won’t be able to wrap up internal 5G modem development before 2022 or 2023.