One of the more remarkable iPhone 13 reports landed over the weekend. Coming from reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, it claims the iPhone 13 will come with LEO (low-Earth orbit) satellite technology that will keep the phone connected even when there’s no 4G or 5G coverage. Such a feature would come in handy for those living in places with lousy cellular service, as well as travelers heading into remote areas. It could also prove its worth during disasters if carriers’ services are knocked out.
In note to investors seen by 9to5Mac, Kuo suggested that the next version of Apple’s smartphone will incorporate a customized version of the Qualcomm X60 baseband modem chip to power the satellite communications.
While SpaceX’s Starlink is currently the best-known user of LEO satellites for its internet-from-space service, Kuo suggests that the provider “most likely” to partner with Apple is Globalstar, a Louisiana-based satellite communications company that’s been in business since 1991.
There’s little additional information from Kuo regarding the specificities of the design that Apple would use to make the satellite technology work.
It’s not the first time that we’ve heard about Apple considering satellite technology for the iPhone, with Bloomberg reporting on the possibility in 2019. But it’s the first time it’s been mentioned in connection with the iPhone 13.
With this latest rumor being a bolt from the blue, there’s no way to say for sure if the iPhone 13 will launch with the feature. But Kuo has called it right in the past, so he could be on to something here.
The iPhone 13 expected to be unveiled at an Apple event in September, so we only have a few weeks to wait before the big reveal.
Digital Trends has an in-depth article detailing everything we could see in the latest iteration of Apple’s big-selling handset.