Apple’s 5G iPhone lineup will require larger, pricier motherboards

Apple’s first 5G iPhones are expected to offer record download speeds, but that won’t come without a price, says analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Mike Wuerthele for AppleInsider:

In a note to investors seen by AppleInsider, Kuo believes that the main logic-board on the 2020 iPhone 5G will have to grow by about 10% in area to accommodate the new technologies. That increase in area will come with a cost —the board fabrication and some new antenna technology will force a 35% increase in cost to build that component.

The increase in the board size is related to heat dissipation from the 5G technology, and the circuitry related to connect to the new antenna technologies for 5G. This does not mean the entire phone will cost 35% more —but the motherboard of the iPhone is a significant cost.

Kuo has previously said that the design will include a metal frame with a “more complex segmentation design, new trenching and injection molding procedures, and sapphire or glass cover assembly to protect the trench injection molding structure.” Kuo goes on to claim the “metal frame and front and rear 2/2.5D glass are still used, but the metal frame surface will be changed to a similar design to the iPhone 4, replacing the current surface design.”

MacDailyNews Take: We’d love to (finally) see iPhone get a virtually indestructible Liquidmetal frame!


  1. So at least a 35% increase to maintain Apple’s margins and we’re looking at about $2000 for the iPhone 12 5G MAX. Heh heh heh. But you can get a subscription for $65 per month from Apple.

  2. Liquidmetal is metal that is injection molded. Their main manufacturer just made an order to increase their Liquidmetal machines from 40 to 90, to be delivered by the end of the year. We’ve been waiting since Apple’s deal with Liquidmetal in 2010. This could be the time, finally!!

    1. Interesting… where did you get this information on the increased order? Also, what’s the run rate for these machines? How many would Apple need to produce millions of parts a week?

      1. Check out the ihub website for LQMT. Their message boards are full of comments from people constantly sifting the data. My recollection is that these machines can make 200 million parts per year.

  3. So, they’re pointing out only iPhone motherboards will be larger and more expensive, but I suppose Android smartphone motherboards won’t have any size or cost problems. I thought the next A-series SoCs would use an even smaller nanometer process to be able to pack more transistors into the same space. Are all iPhones going to have 5G or just the highest-end models? I’m certain not every Android smartphone is going to be sporting 5G. It doesn’t seem to me there would be a universal demand for 5G.

    I don’t know why Kuo is always believed to have some inside track of what’s going on at Apple.

    1. Apple or Android motherboard, what’s the difference? Both platforms have no choice but to source from Qualcomm, Broadcom, Huawei, or Ericsson. Orange Baboon says nobody can buy from Huawei and trade barriers have been threatened against Europe too (why???). Qualcomm has the most capable 5G modems, so flagship phones on either platform will rely on them.

      Apple doesn’t have enough in-house 5G patents to lead. At best they might be able to license the tech and then diversify manufacturing. That’s assuming Apple’s partners in Korea and Taiwan have spare manufacturing availability. Sammy is likely going to limit Apple production if it can help their own brand get a jump of 5G profits.

      Unfortunately, diversification of manufacturing is not in Timmy’s DNA. He only likes diversity he can get trophies for… when it comes to making stuff, it’s all outsourced now.

  4. MDN: You can stop hyping the liquidmetal meme now. It’s dead. Liquidmetal Technologies (LQMT) stock is flatter than Oklahoma, currently at 0.0974. A penny stock. The one thing we know for sure is actually made with Liquidmetal tech is the above SIM card pin, which does nothing a simple paper clip cannot do equally well.

    Like it or not, casting results in cheaper high-volume parts but also weak material properties. In general, in its quest for thinness, Apple has long passed the capabilities of casting for its iPhone, iPad, and watch cases. In its massively growing disposables business, plastic remains the material of choice. Of course there are a few exceptions as iFixit will show. But Liquidmetal casting just didn’t work out as you have hyped for the last decade. Sorry.

    If you want cheap metal castings, they are zinc and they are garbage. If you want thin stronger metal castings, they are magnesium and they are especially exciting when placed next to an overheating Li-ion battery. If you want thick relatively strong castings, then you choose other aluminum alloys. If you want something stronger than any aluminum casting, you use forging and CNC the finished product. Something that could be done inexpensively in the USA if Apple wanted to do so.

    1. Really, is that why Liquidmetal’s partner in China is ramping up from 40 to 90+ machines by year end? Is that why Foxconn has a contract to produce Liquidmetal parts? Sorry, Mike, you are way off. This material is already being mass produced in China for Hauwei. Their new folding phone has a Liquidmetal hinge. Asus Zenphone 6 is using Liquidmetal in the camera module on their phone. Look it up, its right on their website. The material is already being mass produced. No one is aware because of the non-disclosure agreements. So it is largely not publicized. But those that have been following know. Apple WILL be using this material in 2020. In fact they already used it in their 2019 IPhone in the camera bracket module – just avery small part. They do this (start out with small parts/quantities) deliberately to test the suppliers to make sure they can meet Apples strict needs. They will be using Liquidmetale’s new formula (106C) in their 2020 phones.

  5. LQMT and Apple have a long history, shared patents in BMG and now a CEO of LQMT that is a recognized world renowned expert in this emerging technology. A network of manufacturers have been aligned in China to meet the production needs of the fruit company. The real money is in the future of BMG and its application across a broad spectrum of applications far beyond consumer electronics ie medical, automotive, military just to name a few. Fasten your seatbelts cuz this rocket is going to launch.

  6. Apple and LQMT have had a long and somewhat agonizing history together at least for LQMT investors but after nearly 10 year sales of speculation and rumor the top is about to come BMG technology with or without acknowledgement from Apple but considering the many amazing qualities and applications of LQMT they won’t choose to or be able to keep it quiet for long.
    Stand back cuz this puppy is gonna launch.

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