Mounting evidence suggests Apple AAPL -4.45%’s iPhone XS (details), iPhone XS Max (details) and iPhone XR (details) are not selling well even despite price cuts. We already know the crowd-pleasing innovation Apple has planned to win users back, but it might not be enough after a major source confirmed the most serious problem with the company’s new iPhones…

Bloomberg reports Apple has fallen substantially behind its rivals and will not be able to equip iPhones with 5G until late 2020 at the earliest. And 5G is about to become a game-changer.

Bloomberg’s sources cite Apple’s feud with chip giant Qualcomm QCOM -2.32% as the most likely reason for this. A conflict which has already forced Apple into an exclusive agreement with Intel and it has been lagging behind Qualcomm’s modem development for years. I wrote about the potential impact this would have back in August and the chickens are now coming home to roost.

But why is missing out on 5G a big deal? In short: because 5G is the real deal.

Whereas Apple has previously chosen to lag behind rivals in adopting 3G (not until the iPhone 3GS) and 4G (not until the iPhone 5), this was because the carrier roll-outs were slow with spotty coverage. By contrast, major networks around the world are rolling out 5G right now and its delivers dramatically faster speed, reliability and signal coverage.

In fact, 5G is so fast and reliable it is expected to replace home broadband and that changes the game for how we use and what we can expect from our phones. This is not a technology you bench for a few years.

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