Image: Apple

The latest iPhone is rumored to come with a killer feature that goes beyond the usual processor, screen, and camera upgrades that Apple traditionally blesses its new smartphones with every year.

According to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple’s upcoming iPhone 13 will include support for low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication. This is a very exciting development, as the feature would allow users to make calls and/or send texts even in areas devoid of cellular coverage.

Kuo pointed out that the hardware would be able to connect to LEO satellites in a note sent to investors. The claim doesn’t seem very far fetched, as the iPhone 13 will reportedly leverage a Qualcomm X60 baseband chip. This is a chip that supports satellite communications.

LEO connectivity will likely be provided to iPhone 13 users by Globalstar, an American satellite communications company that already runs an LEO satellite network for satellite phones and low-speed data communications. Customers of a partner network operator would be able to use Globalstar’s service with no additional contracts or payments required.

Apple is reportedly so optimistic about LEO satellite communications technology that it is already planning to bring it to other products. These might include Apple’s mixed-reality headset and its electric vehicle, which could enter production in just a few years.

Image: Apple

Kuo added that LEO satellite communications is a technology comparable to mmWave 5G in terms of its impact on the network industry and that Apple may leverage both technologies. Kuo says that Apple is “optimistic” about the trend of satellite communications and set up a specific team for research and development of technologies related to it “some time” ago.

Source: MacRumors

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8 Comments

  1. [QUOTE=”Burticus, post: 40500, member: 297″]
    But what satellites? Magellan? I don’t know what other sat phone companies are around…
    [/QUOTE]

    LEO connectivity will likely be provided to iPhone 13 users by Globalstar, an American satellite communications company that already runs an LEO satellite network for satellite phones and low-speed data communications. Customers of a partner network operator would be able to use Globalstar’s service with no additional contracts or payments required.

  2. You know, I’m not an Apple fan, but this is actually pretty cool.

    But aren’t satellite phone plans usually RIDICULOUSLY expensive?

  3. [QUOTE=”Zarathustra, post: 40515, member: 203″]
    You know, I’m not an Apple fan, but this is actually pretty cool.

    But aren’t satellite phone plans usually RIDICULOUSLY expensive?
    [/QUOTE]

    By what standard? year 2000 yea they were considered crazy expensive… but so was a thousand dollar phone?

    Lets see what google says.

    Prices vary but there is only ONE satellite phone on the market that is smart that I saw in a quick search and best price I found for it was 1200 dollars basically.

    That’s in line with smart phones today.

    But… it did have a big honkin antenna on it… so maybe that is an issue.

  4. [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 40521, member: 215″]
    But… it did have a big honkin antenna on it… so maybe that is an issue.
    [/QUOTE]
    Original sat phones were not NEO

  5. [QUOTE=”Brian_B, post: 40549, member: 96″]
    Original sat phones were not NEO
    [/QUOTE]

    but would that make them cheaper or more expensive? I’m betting a 200 dollar premium.

  6. [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 40550, member: 215″]
    but would that make them cheaper or more expensive? I’m betting a 200 dollar premium.
    [/QUOTE]
    It would make them need a bigass antenna to reach geosync orbit. That’s like 22k miles out. NEO is like.. a few hundred. Longer than cellular, but not bigly longer.

    As far as service goes – I don’t know. Probably cheaper to run geosync, since you only need a few high powered satellites, whereas NEO you need to blanket a large swath with small low power sats. Couldn’t say the cost differential though, just guess.

  7. [QUOTE=”Brian_B, post: 40553, member: 96″]
    It would make them need a bigass antenna to reach geosync orbit. That’s like 22k miles out. NEO is like.. a few hundred. Longer than cellular, but not bigly longer.

    As far as service goes – I don’t know. Probably cheaper to run geosync, since you only need a few high powered satellites, whereas NEO you need to blanket a large swath with small low power sats. Couldn’t say the cost differential though, just guess.
    [/QUOTE]

    Well considering apple is pulling in 15 billion dollars a year just to have google as the default search engine I think they can afford a satellite network if they want one or just to buy time on the Tesla satellites. 😉

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