According to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPhone 13 will include low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity, which will allow users to make calls and send messages in areas where 4G or 5G coverage is unavailable.
Kuo explained in a note to investors obtained by MacRumors that the iPhone 13 lineup will include hardware capable of connecting to LEO satellites. If the appropriate software features are enabled, iPhone 13 users may be able to make calls and send messages without the use of a 4G or 5G cellular connection.
According to reports, the iPhone 13 has a Qualcomm X60 baseband chip that supports satellite communications. Other smartphone manufacturers are reportedly delaying the adoption of the X65 baseband chip required for satellite communications functions until 2022.
Some readers may be familiar with SpaceX’s Starlink, which provides LEO internet connectivity, but Globalstar is said to be the LEO satellite communication service provider “most likely to cooperate with Apple in terms of technology and service coverage” Qualcomm and Globalstar are reportedly working together to support the n53 band in future X65 baseband chips.
Individual network operators working with Globalstar is the “simplest scenario” for providing LEO connectivity to users, according to Kuo. Customers of a partner network operator could use Globalstar’s satellite communication service on the iPhone 13 directly through their network operator, without having to sign any additional contracts or pay any additional fees.
According to Kuo, LEO satellite communications has a similar impact on the network industry as mmWave 5G, and Apple may use both technologies. Apple is “optimistic” about the satellite communications trend, according to Kuo, and established a dedicated team for research and development of satellite communications technologies “some time” ago.
To “provide innovative experiences.” the company is said to have plans to bring LEO satellite communications to more devices in the future. According to Kuo, these could include Apple’s mixed reality head-mounted display device, electric vehicles, and other IoT accessories.