In his latest note, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that Apple will be using a new antenna technology for its 2019 iPhones. As per the TF International Securities analyst, Apple will use a modified polyimide (MPI) antenna technology instead of Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) on next year’s iPhones.
Apple currently uses six LCP antennas on its 2018 iPhones which includes the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. For next year’s iPhone, the company plans to use four MPI antennas and 2 LCP antennas.
Among other benefits, the switch will provide Apple will better bargaining power against its LCP material suppliers. It will also allow the company to diversify its supply chain business as it cannot add more LCP material suppliers due to its complicated production process. LCP is more brittle in nature and has a low yield rate. By switching to MPI, Apple can solve these issues for good. Kuo notes that Apple can get the performance of the MPI antenna to be as good as LCP by using an improved fluoride formula.
Apple will be exclusively sourcing the LCP antenna technology for its 2019 iPhones from Japanese suppliers thanks to their better “vertical integration.” Apple currently sources its antenna materials from two different vendors. With this switch, it would be able to expand its supply chain to include five vendors. There’s no word from Kuo as to how the switch from LCP to MPI antennas will have any impact on network performance or reception.
The switch to MPI antennas will further help Apple in transitioning to a 5G iPhone in 2020 and beyond. Kuo in his previous note said that 2019 iPhones will feature upgraded Face ID hardware.