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iPhone 13 mmWave 5G support limited to US models

Apple is once again limiting mmWave 5G connectivity to certain devices, with only iPhone 13 units sold in the U.S. capable of accessing the speedy network bands.

When Apple introduced 5G capabilities with iPhone 12 last year, it limited access to ultra-fast mmWave bands to handsets sold in the U.S. The tech giant was predicted to expand availability beyond its domestic market with iPhone 13, but it appears that the restriction will remain.

According to a support document, highlighted on Twitter by blogger Rene Ritchie, U.S. iPhone 13 models integrate baseband modems compatible with the n258, n260 and n261 bands, which operate at 26 GHz, 39 GHz and 28 GHz, respectively. Dubbed mmWave, these high-frequency bands feature wavelengths that can be measured in millimeters instead of centimeters or larger, and provide ample data transfer capability with bandwidths exceeding 3GHz.

Apple notes iPhone 13 models sold in other regions, including important markets like China, do not come equipped to handle high-frequency operating bands.

Whether iPhone 13 units sold in countries outside the U.S. integrate different Qualcomm radios is unclear, though MacRumors points out that product marketing material in those regions shows handsets without a mmWave antenna window. The cutout was first seen on iPhone 12 devices and its absence on non-U.S. hardware indicates Apple does not plan to activate mmWave on international iPhone 13 models at a later date.

Though mmWave on iPhone 13 appears to be a non-starter for users beyond U.S. shores, Apple on Tuesday said it will double 5G support to more than 200 carriers in 60 countries and regions by year's end. The handset supports a wide range of 5G bands, including those in the slower but more robust sub-6GHz spectrum.