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In brief: Apple is reportedly looking to offset the expense of adding 5G functionality to the next generation iPhone by implementing cost-cutting measures elsewhere including utilizing a less expensive battery board and perhaps even ditching the in-box headphones and charging brick.
Renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in a recent research note said Apple will utilize a smaller and simpler battery board in the iPhone 12 that could reduce the cost of the component by 40-50 percent compared to what was used in the iPhone 11.
Further optimizations in 2021 could shave an additional 30-40 percent off battery unit costs, Kuo added.
By itself, the battery board changes won't be enough to fully offset the cost of supporting 5G networks. We've also heard rumors in recent months that the new iPhones will ship without a charging brick and headphones in the box. As implausible as that might initially sound, the move would save Apple some additional money and could push more people to opt for wireless AirPods and wireless charging solution. Eventually, it could even pave the way for an iPhone without any external connectors.
Most expect Apple to launch as many as four distinct iPhone models later this year including two flagship iPhone Pro devices with 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch displays. All are predicted to ship with 5G connectivity.