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.
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.