Apple could be adding new radio technology to its upcoming iPhone 13 lineup. In an investor note, TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that he expects the next-gen iPhone models to feature a low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite communication mode. This would allow iPhone 13 owners to send messages and make phone calls without any signals present, thanks to a customized baseband chip.
iPhone 13 to reportedly support satellite communications
Kuo says that the Qualcomm X60 baseband chip, which Apple is rumored to be using for its upcoming lineup, will support low-earth-orbit satellite communications. The prediction is based on Qualcomm’s work with Globalstar.
“There are many potential scenarios for Apple’s business model cooperation with Globalstar,” writes Kuo. “The simplest scenario is that if the user’s operator has already teamed with Globalstar, the user can directly use Globalstar’s satellite communication service on the iPhone 13 through the operator’s service.”
Currently, we do not know if sending messages and making calls over satellite would only work within Apple’s ecosystem like through iMessage and FaceTime, or if the tech giant could enable satellite communications to work with standard cell towers. It is also unclear whether the feature would be free or restricted to the “Pro” models in the lineup.
Kuo also speculates that LEO satellite communication may be used by the Cupertino tech giant in future products. The incorporation of the technology in iPhone 13 is said to innovate user experiences that can be integrated with new products. It may be used in the long-rumored Apple AR headset or Apple Car.
According to serial leaker Jon Prosser, Apple will hold its Fall event on September 17 to unveil its next flagship iPhone lineup along with AirPods 3, Apple Watch Series 7, M1X MacBook Pro models, iPad mini, and more. As per industry reports, the expected features for iPhone 13 include a smaller notch, LTPO OLED display for always-on display, larger batteries, an improved camera system, and more.