Technology

iPhone 12 and 5G: Everything you’re confused about, explained

Apple is ready to introduce its first 5G telephones in October. Don’t fret, there will not be large bezels on the perimeters of the display like this older iPhone.


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This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

Apple’s latest tease: “Hi, Speed.” 5G velocity, that’s. The corporate is gearing as much as introduce its iPhone 12 lineup subsequent week, and the most important new characteristic is more likely to be one thing generally present in Android smartphones; next-generation 5G cellular connectivity. The brand new model of wi-fi networks began rolling out throughout the globe final 12 months and picked up velocity in 2020. Just about all new Android phones arriving in the US today offer 5G, and the nation’s greatest carriers have been speaking nonstop concerning the connectivity. Now that Apple is leaping into the fray with its 5G-enabled iPhone 12 fashions, the buzz about 5G is only going to get louder — even when shoppers in locations just like the US aren’t precisely clamoring for 5G units. 

Apple on Tuesday despatched out its invitations for a virtual event on Oct. 13, the place it is extensively anticipated to indicate off its new iPhone lineup, with units probably referred to as the iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Professional and iPhone 12 Professional Max. Most, if not all, of the telephones will sport 5G connectivity, which has the potential to be a lot quicker than 4G. The units will probably go on presale late subsequent week earlier than arriving in shops the next week.   

Apple sometimes is not the primary to introduce new expertise, like cell funds and wi-fi charging. It was no less than a era behind in adopting 3G and 4G LTE mobile capabilities in earlier iPhones. However as soon as it jumps in, it tends to dominate and form the market in methods different handset makers cannot. The identical factor is anticipated to occur with 5G, which trade observers assume may drive an enormous uptick in iPhone demand. It is a clear manner for Apple to distinguish its new units from its older fashions, in addition to spur new improvements and providers that faucet into the excessive speeds and zippy responsiveness 5G presents.

When Apple sells its first 5G iPhones this 12 months, it will instantly change into one of many prime 5G cellphone distributors on the earth, despite the fact that its first telephones aren’t hitting the market till the fourth quarter. 

This 12 months, Apple will leapfrog Samsung — which has a few dozen 5G cellphone fashions obtainable and which shipped over half of 2019’s 5G units — to change into the second-largest 5G cellphone vendor after Huawei, in keeping with Technique Analytics. And subsequent 12 months, Apple would be the world’s greatest 5G cellphone vendor, Technique Analytics stated, delivery an estimated 180 million of 2021’s 670 million 5G telephones. 

“There is a so-called Apple impact,” Technique Analytics analyst Ville-Petteri Ukonaho stated. “No matter Apple does, it virtually instantly turns into a hit.”

However first, the company’s task will be showing consumers why 5G is worth the upgrade

Apple declined to remark forward of its occasion. 

When will Apple promote the iPhone 12?

Apple on Tuesday stated its next event, which will be virtual, will take place Oct. 13, a few month later than its regular iPhone launch timing. Preorders are more likely to begin the 16th, adopted by availability in shops — no less than those which are open — the next Friday. 

Apple in July warned that its latest iPhones would “be available a few weeks later” than normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It nonetheless held an occasion in September however targeted on its Apple Watches and iPads as a substitute of its telephones.

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Apple set Oct. 13 for its iPhone launch. 


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It is unclear whether or not all new iPhone fashions shall be obtainable this month, or if the sales dates will be staggered. Millimeter-wave variations of some Android telephones have arrived later than the opposite 5G fashions. Up to now, Apple has launched some iPhone fashions, just like the iPhone X, later than the rest of the lineup due to components like manufacturing delays. 

What number of iPhones will Apple launch? And the way will they be totally different?

Search for as many as four new models from Apple: the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 Mini, 6.1-inch iPhone 12, 6.1-inch 12 Professional and 6.7-inch 12 Professional Max. For these preserving observe, that is yet another iPhone than final 12 months’s lineup (the iPhone 11 did not have a Mini model), and the extra premium telephones — the Professional and Professional Max — get a bump in display dimension. 

Final 12 months’s new iPhone lineup included the 6.1-inch iPhone 11, the 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Professional and the 6.5-inch iPhone 11 Professional Max. 

Together with a possible additional mannequin and display tweaks, most, if not all, fashions are anticipated to return with 5G, in addition to Apple’s up to date A14 Bionic processor. By way of the iPhone 12’s design, Apple may completely overhaul the phone so as to add flat edges, much like the design of the newer iPads. 

For extra on the anticipated iPhone 12 options, check out PJDM’s rumor roundup.

What does it imply to have 5G on an iPhone?

5G is the next-generation wireless technology that may energy our telephones. It is anticipated to alter our lives, simply as 4G led to Apple’s App Retailer and providers like Uber and Instagram. With out 4G, smartphones would not exist of their present kind. 5G is anticipated to convey adjustments simply as revolutionary, however we do not but know what new services or products may emerge. 

Probably the most noticeable enchancment with 5G over what the iPhone presents at this time is quicker connectivity, therefore Apple’s “Hello, Pace” invite. 5G can run between 10 and 100 times faster than your typical 4G mobile connection, making downloads and video streaming snappier than ever. 

Importantly, 5G’s latency — the period of time between when your cellphone pings the community and when the community responds — is way quicker than what 4G and even Wi-Fi present. Sooner or later, that could enable things like remote surgery or Zoom videoconferences which are truly in sync. We’ll be capable to do issues we may by no means do earlier than on a cell system, and do them practically instantaneously.

For the iPhone, we may see new augmented reality options that reap the benefits of 5G’s excessive speeds and low latency. Apple included AR clues in its invitations for the September and October occasions. 

Why do I would like a 5G iPhone?

In a phrase: future-proofing. Although 5G networks is probably not in all places proper now, within the subsequent few years they positive shall be. Already, the expertise has been rolling out quicker than 4G a decade in the past, and pricing for devices has been falling farther and faster than anticipated. 

When 4G first hit the market, People purchased their telephones beneath two-year plans, sometimes paying a small quantity in trade for staying with a service for a few years. That cycle nudged shoppers to improve their telephones each different 12 months. 

Now the US smartphone market has shifted to shoppers shopping for telephones outright or buying them on month-to-month fee plans. Meaning individuals are holding onto their telephones longer than earlier than, about three years as a substitute of two, analysts say. In the event you purchase a brand new iPhone yearly, you won’t want 5G but. However in the event you’ll purchase an iPhone in 2020 and never buy one other till late 2023, you may wish to get a mannequin with 5G connectivity.

How briskly may my 5G iPhone be?

It relies on the kind of 5G in every cellphone. Low-band 5G, which is favored by T-Mobile and AT&T, is not a lot totally different from 4G speeds. However millimeter wave, which has been pushed by Verizon, is blazing quick. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 modem, which connects most 5G telephones at this time, permits you to obtain knowledge at as much as 7 Gbps and add info at three Gbps.

Qualcomm builds a customized modem for Apple, however the mmWave-enabled iPhones are more likely to see comparable speeds.

Qualcomm’s next modem, the X60, shall be in telephones subsequent 12 months. That chip barely bumps obtain speeds to 7.5 Gbps, although uploads keep regular at three Gbps. You’ll, nevertheless, see quicker common speeds, Qualcomm stated. The X60 has the flexibility to mixture the slower sub-6 networks with the quicker mmWave spectrum, boosting general efficiency. 

In between, there is a sweet-spot frequency referred to as midband spectrum, which has a pleasant steadiness of velocity and vary. It is generally utilized in markets around the globe, although within the US, solely T-Cell at present employs it due to its acquisition of Sprint

How does millimeter-wave spectrum profit the following iPhone?

When corporations boast concerning the game-changing advantages of 5G, what they’re speaking about is the mmWave model of the expertise. That is the ultrahigh-speed connectivity that makes 4G appear poky. There is a critical draw back to mmWave, although: The alerts have bother going by way of partitions, and so they can get blocked by bushes, buildings and different objects. 

Proper now Verizon is the primary service pushing mmWave. It hasn’t but launched its slower however extra dependable nationwide 5G community. AT&T initially launched mmWave 5G connectivity, however recently it has targeted on its lower-band airwaves. And T-Cell, which has a small footprint of mmWave, has targeted on its nationwide low-band protection, in addition to Dash’s midband airwaves. 

Just about all different nations across the globe have additionally shunned mmWave in favor of decrease bands of 5G, no less than proper now. Apple might solely provide mmWave in a single model of the iPhone 12. 

How a lot will 5G have an effect on the worth of the brand new iPhones?

We can’t know the pricing till Apple proclaims its new iPhones, however there are some guesses. Some consider the iPhone 12 may truly be inexpensive than final 12 months’s iPhone 11, which retailed for $699. Nevertheless it’s extra probably that Apple will introduce a Mini model with decrease pricing.

The percentages are excessive that Apple should increase pricing in the remainder of the lineup to account for the 5G chips in its units. The brand new modems are costly, and so they require additional components that additionally add to the price of the iPhone’s supplies. The upper expense of mmWave might be why Apple is anticipated to incorporate the expertise in just one model of the iPhone 12: the 12 Professional Max. 

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When the primary Android 5G telephones hit the market, they have been considerably dearer than the 4G variations. Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G from final 12 months retailed for $1,299, a whopping $400 greater than the 4G-only model. The corporate’s most up-to-date 5G telephones — the only options in the US — are solely barely dearer than the earlier 12 months’s 4G fashions. The Galaxy S20, as an example, begins at $999 and mechanically comes with 5G, whereas final 12 months’s Galaxy S10 began at $899 for the 4G mannequin. 

After they hit the market a 12 months in the past, the iPhone 11 Professional value $999 and the 11 Professional Max began at $1,099. Leaks about pricing for the brand new iPhone 12 lineup are in all places. Some rumors peg the brand new fashions at $699 for the iPhone 12, $1,049 for the iPhone 12 Professional and $1,149 for the iPhone 12 Professional Max. The Mini may value as little as $649. 

As Samsung has discovered, it is not easy to sell a $1,000 phone during a pandemic. However Apple at all times has followers who clamor for its latest telephones, it doesn’t matter what. A “staggering” 53% of respondents plan to purchase this 12 months’s iPhone, in keeping with a survey by electronics reseller Decluttr.

What US carriers will provide a 5G iPhone? And may I purchase it unlocked?

We’re gone the times of just one service providing the most recent iPhone. When Apple first launched its smartphone in 2007, AT&T was its unique companion. However now all carriers promote the system on the similar time. AT&T, Verizon and T-Cell will all promote the brand new iPhones, as will all main and small carriers across the globe. 

The doable wild card might be mmWave. Some handset makers, like Samsung, have opted to create one customized mannequin of their lineup that runs on the ultrafast community for Verizon, whereas most variations solely faucet into the slower however steadier airwaves.

The mmWave fashions, dubbed UW or Extremely Wideband by Verizon, have tended to value extra and hit the market later than the lower-band fashions. They’ve additionally dropped some options to make room for the mmWave {hardware}. Verizon’s custom S20 5G shipped with much less RAM and misplaced the microSD card slot discovered on different S20 5G telephones offered by rival carriers.

Samsung priced its mmWave, Verizon model of the Galaxy S20 FE $50 higher than the other $700 models, although Verizon is providing a promotion to decrease the price, and its Galaxy A71 5G UW is also $50 more than the model with out mmWave. Likewise, the Pixel 4A 5G on Verizon is $100 more than the base $500 price

Some rumors say solely the iPhone 12 Professional Max will include mmWave connectivity.

The place can I get 5G service for the iPhone 12? 

5G is out there in lots of nations across the globe, notably China and the US. Within the US, Verizon, AT&T and T-Cell have all turned on their 5G networks, and so they proceed increasing their protection footprints. 

T-Cell completed its acquisition of Sprint originally of April, instantly giving the mixed firm an enormous 5G footprint. T-Mobile’s nationwide network went live in December, which meant its community lined over 200 million folks. And originally of June, it grew to become the primary service to have 5G coverage in all 50 states. Its 5G community at present covers greater than 225 million folks. 

AT&T’s 5G service now covers over 205 million folks, and its low-band network went nationwide in late July. The corporate additionally has deployed millimeter-wave 5G, what it calls 5G Plus, in 36 cities across the nation. (To additional complicate issues, the service additionally rebranded its 4G LTE community as 5GE, however we’ll get to that in a minute.)

AT&T additionally has deployed dynamic spectrum sharing in elements of its community, which can velocity up its 5G rollout. The expertise lets carriers use the identical spectrum bands for each 4G and 5G, permitting them to activate their 5G networks with out having to first flip off 4G. As a substitute of getting totally different roads for buses and automobiles, DSS is like having one large freeway with separate lanes for buses and for automobiles. 

Although Verizon lengthy has bragged that its 4G community is in additional locations than its rivals’ choices, it could possibly’t say the identical with 5G. By initially specializing in mmWave, which it calls 5G Extremely Wideband, Verizon restricted itself to large markets like New York, Chicago, Denver and Atlanta. It is in 36 cities across the US, however its protection is out there solely in sure elements of these cities. A lot of its funding has targeted on soccer stadiums — that are empty this NFL season.

Verizon will roll out its low-band, nationwide community this 12 months. It already has been together with assist for the forthcoming, wider-coverage community in all its 2020 5G units. 

Will a 5G iPhone work in rural areas?

Rural areas do not have mmWave now, and it is not going they ever will. As a substitute, carriers are counting on low-band airwaves, like T-Cell’s 5G community, to convey quicker connectivity to more-remote areas. 

Some specialists count on 5G to finally be a boon for rural elements of the US, together with areas that still lack home broadband connections of no less than 25 Mbps. However others warn it may take a number of years or extra — if ever — for carriers to truly deploy 5G in more-remote, sparsely populated elements of the nation, so it is probably not price it to snag a brand new iPhone only for the 5G.

An estimated 18 million people in the US don’t have a broadband connection with obtain speeds of no less than 25 megabits per second, in keeping with a 2020 tally from the Federal Communications Fee. Consultants say the official figures are virtually definitely decrease than actuality due to defective maps. 

The explanation rural areas might miss out on 5G, no less than for now, is a mixture of expertise, geography and funds. The important thing spectrum wanted for 5G covers solely brief distances, runs into issues when there’s even a tree in the best way and requires plenty of costly towers put in shut to one another.

As a part of its settlement with the FCC to get the Dash merger permitted, T-Cell promised to offer 5G service to 97% of the US population within three years, and inside six years 99%. For rural People, the protection could be 85% inside three years, and 90% inside six.

That stated, a 5G iPhone will nonetheless connect with 4G networks, and it is more likely to faucet into the quickest 4G connectivity obtainable. Your cellphone might be snappier even when it would not entry 5G networks. 

Do I’ve to alter my service service plan to make use of a 5G iPhone?

It relies on your service. For AT&T, you want a brand new plan, with T-Cell, you’ll be able to stick together with your present plan, and with Verizon, it relies on which sort of 5G you are utilizing. 

Accessing AT&T’s 5G community requires a subscription to considered one of its newest unlimited plans often called Limitless Starter, Limitless Additional and Limitless Elite. For 4 traces, pricing for Starter begins at $140 a month ($35 a line) however this does not embrace any cell hotspot, and knowledge will be slowed when the community is congested. When you’ve got an older AT&T service plan, even one which’s limitless, you may be restricted to 4G LTE even you probably have a 5G system. 

T-Cell’s 5G plans are simpler. Any plan, together with these of legacy Sprint subscribers, will be capable to connect with 5G you probably have a 5G system. Of T-Cell’s new plans, a current promotion takes the most cost effective Necessities plan down to $100 a month for four lines ($25 a line). You get limitless discuss, textual content and knowledge, however cell hotspot is capped at “max 3G speeds” (which has previously meant a still-weak 512Kbps). 

Verizon falls someplace between AT&T and T-Cell. Anybody who desires to make use of its low-band nationwide 5G community when it launches later this 12 months will be capable to keep on their older plans. However if you would like the complete Verizon 5G millimeter-wave expertise (which at present is reside in 36 markets), you may want to maneuver to considered one of Verizon’s limitless plans often called Do Extra, Get Extra or Play Extra. These plans begin at $180 a month for 4 traces. 

AT&T and Verizon additionally allow you to combine plans. One line on a household plan may faucet into the best limitless providing, as an example, whereas the others may subscribe to the bottom. 

For a deeper dive, check out PJDM’s roundup of US carrier 5G plans

What does this imply for the 4G iPhone I already personal? 

Proper no longer quite a bit. There aren’t many providers that faucet into 5G and none that require it. However as 5G turns into extra widespread, that would change. Issues like mobile gaming and virtual reality will benefit from 5G, and augmented actuality may change into even snappier and extra lifelike. Whereas your present 4G cellphone will not have bother utilizing these forms of apps now, it may change into sluggish as these providers change into much more superior.

On the similar time, simply because 5G is rolling out the world over doesn’t mean 4G will stop working. 5G is not preferrred for all conditions, and 4G will nonetheless be the default connection in most places for a very long time. You need not throw away your 4G cellphone and purchase a 5G iPhone come October, even when Apple’s hoping you do. However in the event you’re planning to carry onto a cellphone for a number of years, you may wish to go for a 5G mannequin. The connectivity ought to be widespread by then. 

On the similar time, extra folks on 5G networks means 4G shall be much less congested. You are more likely to see quicker 4G speeds with the cellphone you have already got. 

Will a 5G iPhone nonetheless work on 4G networks? And can 5G substitute 4G?

You will not be capable to purchase a 5G cellphone that does not even have 4G connectivity. 5G is not widespread in most locations, particularly rural areas, and telephones will fall again to 4G connections when wanted. Take into consideration your 4G cellphone. It nonetheless connects to 3G networks in areas the place 4G is not obtainable. 

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Samsung’s $2,000 Z Fold 2 foldable comes with 5G connectivity. 


Angela Lang/PJDM

The transfer from 4G to 5G is totally different from previous community upgrades. 5G is not changing 4G, like how 4G overtook 3G. As a substitute, 5G is constructing on 4G LTE, utilizing up to date radios and software program. By 2025, one in five mobile connections will be running on 5G networks, in keeping with a March report from GSMA Intelligence, the analysis arm of the cell operator group that hosts Mobile World Congress. However that very same 12 months, 4G LTE will nonetheless account for about 56% of all connections. Even when 5G turns into a fair larger a part of the market by 2025 than estimated, “it will complement rather than replace LTE,” GSMA stated in a separate report from final 12 months. 

Proper now, 5G networks within the US are one thing referred to as non-standalone. They want 4G because the anchor to make that preliminary handshake between a cellphone and community earlier than passing the system alongside to a 5G connection. Utilizing non-standalone expertise permits carriers to roll out 5G extra shortly than in the event that they needed to utterly overhaul their whole networks with new {hardware}.

The subsequent taste of 5G community, referred to as standalone, lets a cellphone go straight to 5G, nevertheless it may take a number of years to roll out within the US and globally. It isn’t till late 2021 or early 2022 that standalone networks will actually roll out, carriers have said. Having 5G standalone networks will allow options like a lot decrease latency. 

And “as soon as you have acquired a standalone community, in the event you’ve acquired a devoted 5G core underpinning it, it offers operators much more flexibility and management over the community,” CCS Perception analyst Geoff Blaber stated. “There’s much more flexibility that paves the best way for a few of these richer experiences that we hear quite a bit about.”

Would not my AT&T iPhone already say it is 5G?

What it says and what it truly means are two various things. AT&T chose “5G E” branding for its phones which have superior 4G connectivity. They’re quicker than older 4G units, however they don’t seem to be truly 5G units. To get onto AT&T’s actual 5G networks, or any of the opposite 5G networks, you may want a brand new 5G-enabled cellphone. 

If I do not desire a 5G iPhone, what are the alternate options?

It is unclear whether or not all iPhone 12 fashions this 12 months will include 5G by default, or if Apple will provide 4G variants.

In the event you want a brand new iPhone however wish to keep on with 4G, the corporate’s $399 iPhone SE, launched in April, might be an choice. PJDM’s Patrick Holland referred to as it “among the best finances telephones you’ll be able to at present purchase” and stated he is “enamored with it.” There are some trade-offs, like just one rear digital camera lens and no Evening Mode, however a few of these options won’t matter to people looking for a cheaper device

If you would like considered one of Apple’s higher-end telephones however solely need 4G, shopping for 2019’s fashions might be a protected wager. Apple sometimes lowers the pricing on the year-old telephones when its latest iPhones hit the market. When final 12 months’s iPhones went on sale — the $699 iPhone 11, $999 11 Professional and $1,099 11 Professional Max — Apple reduce the worth on 2018’s iPhone XR by $150, to $599. Apple most likely will not maintain the complete iPhone 11 lineup round, nevertheless it’s more likely to provide no less than one mannequin at a lower cost. 

Why did not Apple have a 5G iPhone earlier?

Within the US, there’s actually just one firm that provides 5G modems that join high-end telephones to mobile networks: Qualcomm. The San Diego chipmaker designs the chips used within the overwhelming majority of 5G telephones outdoors China, together with Samsung’s Galaxy S20 and Be aware 20 units.

Qualcomm and Apple had battled over patents and licensing fees on the time most Android corporations have been creating their 5G telephones, and so they did not attain a settlement till April 2019. That resulted in a delay for Apple to get to market with its first 5G telephones. Whereas most Android corporations use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip, which mixes the modem with the brains of the system, Apple’s devices use a custom modem from Qualcomm that goes alongside the iPhone maker’s A Collection chips. That may’t be achieved in a single day. 

What else can 5G be used for moreover telephones? What about Apple’s AR glasses?

5G has the flexibility to transform more than just phones. It has large implications for robots, automobiles, well being units, retail and practically each trade you’ll be able to consider. 5G can hyperlink streetlights and different units that have not been linked to the web earlier than, with ubiquitous sensors continuously speaking to one another. Emergency responders will be capable to do extra on the scene of an accident, whereas farmers will be able to monitor their crops and livestock. Even cows may change into linked. 

In the case of Apple, 5G might be necessary for its long-awaited augmented actuality glasses. AR overlays digital photos on the actual world utilizing particular headsets or your cellphone. Lots of the early examples of fashionable AR functions embrace video games like Pokemon Go or filters and lenses that go over your face on Instagram and Snapchat. Apple’s ARKit software program instruments, introduced three years ago, have made it straightforward for developers to construct AR options into their apps.

The corporate has been engaged on glasses that mix AR and VR for years, as reported by PJDM. It initially deliberate to unveil them this 12 months, however the glasses are probably delayed. 

Will my 5G iPhone 12 give me most cancers? Or the coronavirus?

Ever since corporations first began speaking about 5G, there have been issues expressed by some folks about the technology’s impact on health. The mmWave model of 5G runs on very-high-frequency radio waves that may’t journey lengthy distances. To get a gradual connection, towers need to be positioned shut collectively and put in in additional places. That is reignited worries that the radio waves may produce dangerous radiation that would trigger mind most cancers, diminished fertility, complications and different issues.

The Meals and Drug Administration and the Federal Communications Fee say there’s nothing to fret about as a result of research have not discovered a hyperlink between radio frequency alerts from cellphones or cell towers and illness. However as a result of 5G is so new, there is no definitive technique to know if it will cause long-term health problems. What will be definitively said is that 5G would not trigger or unfold a virus. 

Because the coronavirus first swept the globe, rumors spread about what caused it. One bogus principle that gained steam on-line is that 5G began the illness. That is utterly flawed. The coronavirus mainly spreads from person to person, by way of respiratory droplets produced by coughing, sneezing, speaking and so forth. It would not journey by way of one thing like radio waves. You’ll be able to’t get it from utilizing your cellphone or watching TV — until the cellphone itself or the distant management is contaminated with the virus. (And all of that’s the reason it’s best to wash your arms often, put on a masks, apply social distancing and take different protective measures.)

Brendan Carr, who serves on the FCC, refuted some efforts to hyperlink 5G to the coronavirus, saying the rumor “is straight from probably the most harmful depths of tinfoil-hat land.” He reiterated that the FCC, Meals and Drug Administration and Environmental Safety Company all say 5G is protected.

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Shara Tibken