5G iPhone expected to star at Apple event

Apple is expected on October 13, 2020, to unveil a keenly anticipated iPhone 12 line-up starring models tuned to super-fast new 5G telecom networks in an update considered vital to the company's fortunes. (AFP)
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Updated 12 October 2020

5G iPhone expected to star at Apple event

  • Powerhouses Samsung and Huawei already have 5G smartphones on the market

SAN FRANCISCO: Apple is expected on Tuesday to unveil a keenly anticipated iPhone 12 lineup starring models tuned to super-fast new 5G telecom networks in an update considered vital to the company’s fortunes.

A streamed event was cryptically teased with the message “Hi, Speed” in an apparent reference to the faster wireless networks being introduced in many parts of the world.

Analysts expect Apple to introduce a selection of iPhone 12 models in multiple sizes, with some shipping earlier than others due to the toll the pandemic has taken on the company’s supply chain.

“We believe iPhone 12 represents the most significant product cycle for Cook & Co. since iPhone 6 in 2014 and will be another defining chapter in the Apple growth story,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a note to investors, referring to chief executive Tim Cook.

The time is ripe, analysts said, for Apple to hit the market with an iPhone tailored to the super-fast 5G telecom networks taking root around the world.

“Apple absolutely needs 5G right now,” said Techsponential analyst Avi Greengart, “not for the US, but for China, where 5G is driving purchase decisions.”

Some Apple rivals have already produced 5G models, and China is far ahead of the US when it comes to the new generation networks.

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.

“5G is happening in China with or without Apple; in fact, more 5G phones than non-5G phones are selling in China,” said analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy.

New generation 5G networks have also taken shape in South Korea and in parts of Europe.

Meanwhile, US telecom firms are looking at a 5G iPhone as a catalyst for consumer interest that will justify the big investments needed for those networks, according to analysts.

“US carriers are waiting for Apple to announce a 5G iPhone to put the pedal to the metal in the US,” said Moorhead.

Apple also needs a 5G-capable iPhone to maintain its premium image, analysts added.

Powerhouses Samsung and Huawei already have 5G smartphones on the market.

Google recently unveiled two new smartphones with 5G wireless capability under its Pixel brand, which showcases the Android mobile system but has limited market share. “Apple got away with not releasing a 5G device last year because the 5G use-cases and network coverage simply was not there,” said Futuresource Consulting research analyst Stephen Mears.

“Apple won’t want to be perceived as being two generations behind on 5G handsets.”

The streamed event comes a month after Apple unveiled new service bundles and smartwatch models tied to the iPhone, which remains at the heart of its moneymaking ecosystem.

Apple remains the most expensive company on Wall Street, where it ended the formal trading session Friday with a value of $2.03 billion, based on its share price.

Rumors swirling ahead of the event include that Apple will unveil new iPhones in an array of sizes, from a small model with a 5.4-inch (13.7-centimeter) screen to one with a 6.7-inch screen, measured diagonally.


Demand issues ‘to overshadow OPEC+ supply next year’

Updated 29 October 2020

Demand issues ‘to overshadow OPEC+ supply next year’

  • Libya's rising production adding to pressure on oil markets

DUBAI: The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies will have to contend with a “lot of demand issues” before raising supply in January 2021, given throughput cuts by oil refiners, the head of Saudi Aramco’s trading arm said.
OPEC and its allies plan to raise production by 2 million barrels per day (bpd) from January after record output cuts this year as the coronavirus pandemic hammered demand, taking overall reductions to about 5.7 million bpd. 

“We see stress in refining margins and see a lot of refineries either cutting their refining capacity to 50-60% or a lot of refineries closing,” Ibrahim Al-Buainain said an interview with Gulf Intelligence released on Wednesday.

“I don’t think the (refining) business is sustainable at these rates (refining margins).”

However, Chinese oil demand is likely to remain solid through the fourth quarter and into 2021 as its economy grows while the rest of the world is in negative territory, he added.

Among the uncertainties facing the oil market are rising Libyan output on the supply side and a second wave of global COVID-19 infections, especially in Europe, on the demand side, Al-Buainain said.

Complicating efforts by other OPEC members and allies to curb output, Libyan production is expected to rebound to 1 million bpd in the coming weeks.

Oil prices, meanwhile, fell over 4 percent on Wednesday as surging coronavirus infections in the US and Europe are leading to renewed lockdowns, fanning fears that the unsteady economic recovery will deteriorate.

“Crude oil is under pressure from the increase in COVID-19 cases, especially in Europe,” said Robert Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York.

Brent futures fell $1.91, or 4.6 percent, to $39.29 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate crude fell $2.05, or 5.2 percent, to $37.52.

Earlier in the day Brent traded to its lowest since Oct. 2 and WTI its lowest since Oct. 5.

Futures pared losses somewhat after the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said a bigger-than-expected 4.3 million barrels of crude oil was put into storage last week, but slightly less than industry data late Tuesday which showed a 4.6 million-barrel build.

However, crude production surged to its highest since July at 11.1 million barrels per day in a record weekly build of 1.2 million bpd, the data showed.

Gasoline demand has also been weak overall, down 10 percent from the four-week average a year ago. US consumption is recovering slowly, especially as millions of people restrict leisure travel with cases surging nationwide.