Apple CEO Tim Cook says 5G is still in its 'early innings' even though rivals like Samsung are already selling 5G phones

leadicicco@businessinsider.com (Lisa Eadicicco)
Tim Cook

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  • Apple CEO Tim Cook told Wall Street analysts that 5G wireless networking technology is still in the "early innings," and sidestepped any questions on a potential 5G iPhone.
  • His comments came on Apple's earnings call, in the wake of announcing a blockbuster quarter that far surpassed analyst estimates.
  • 5G networks are still scarce even in the United States, but major smartphone makers like Samsung, Huawei, and LG have already launched phones that support the next-generation wireless network.
  • Cook's remarks come as Apple has been widely expected to launch a 5G iPhone in the fall. 
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Rivals like Samsung, Huawei, and Motorola are already selling 5G-enabled smartphones, but Apple CEO Tim Cook believes the next-generation wireless network is still in its early days — and sidestepped any questions about a potential 5G iPhone.

"With respect to 5G, we're in the early innings of its deployment on a global basis," Cook said in response to an analyst question about Apple's potential plans to bring 5G connectivity to future iPhones.

Cook's comments during the company's fiscal first-quarter earnings call comes as Apple has been widely rumored to be developing 5G iPhones for a September launch, as reports from Bloomberg and TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo have indicated.

However, Cook declined to comment on the company's plans for 5G, except to insinuate that the slow pace in the United States of the rollout of the technology may be a cause for concern at Apple.

"I think it's important when you think about 5G to look around the world at the different deployment schedules," he said. "Some of them look very different than what you might be seeing here. That's very important."

The term "5G" has been a buzzword for years, but 2019 was the year that many smartphone makers and wireless carriers began more widely implementing the technology. Samsung's flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S10, is available in a 5G variant, for example. Android phone makers like OnePlus, Motorola, and LG also sell 5G-enabled devices.

But even in the United States, 5G coverage is fairly limited. Verizon's 5G network is only currently available in 31 cities, for example. AT&T launched its consumer 5G network in just five cities in December, as The Verge notes, although it said it would soon be deploying the network in an additional 10 cities. 

Apple posted record-breaking results on Tuesday during its fiscal first quarter earnings report, as holiday sales of the iPhone and Apple's wearables resulted in a 9% increase in revenue. Apple's iPhone revenue also returned to growth following four consecutive quarters of year-over-year declines, largely driven by the iPhone 11 lineup. 

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