Apple is heavily speculated to launch the iPhone 13 next month. Now, a new research note from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said that the iPhone 13 series could come with Lower Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity that will allow users to make calls and send messages without requiring cellular coverage. Kuo, in his research note to investors, said that the iPhone 13 series may have hardware ready to support communication via LEO satellites in areas where standard 4G and 5G coverage isn’t available. Kuo has hinted that the iPhone 13 smartphones may come with a custom chip that supports new communication experience. Apple is reportedly working with Globalstar that operates a low LEO satellite constellation for low-speed data communication and satellite phone.
Kuo, in his note said that the iPhone 13 models will allow users to make voice calls and send text messages without requiring a 4G or 5G connection, if enabled with relevant software features. iPhone 13 series is said to come with a customised Qualcomm X60 chip to support communication via LEO satellites. Kuo says that iPhone 13 users will be able to communicate with no additional contracts or payments required. Network operators, however, may need to work with Globalstar to enable LEO satellite communication. Kuo also predicted that Apple may expand the LEO satellite communications beyond the iPhone 13 lineup and would provide its experience on the highly anticipated mixed reality headset, Apple car, and other IoT devices in the future.
Apart from Kuo, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman also came out with a report that says that Apple’s push to bring satellite capabilities to the iPhone will be focused on emergency situations. Gurman, in his report, said that Apple is developing at least two related emergency features that will rely on satellite networks. Gurman quoted an anonymous source as saying that while the iPhone 13 may have hardware to support these satellite features, they are likely to be added next year.
The first feature, which may be dubbed Emergency Message via Satellite, will let users text emergency services and contacts over a satellite network when there’s no cell coverage available. This will be integrated into the Messages app as a third protocol, alongside SMS and iMessage. The report says that it will appear with gray message bubbles instead of green or blue.
The second feature, according to the report, is focused on letting users report a crisis. Here, the iPhone will ask users what kind of emergency they are in, and if it involves a car, boat, plane, or fire. The system is also able to take more specific information, such as a person falling overboard or a ship sinking, the Bloomberg report said.