Apple is planning to integrate satellite communications within the iPhone 13, which could be a massive boost for those in areas where mobile signal is unreliable.
The noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes the next-generation handset will be the first to support low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications technology.
Should that be the case, it would enable iPhone 13 owners to make calls and send messages even when conventional mobile service is unavailable, either due to location or network failure.
Kuo also speculates that Apple could apply the technology to IoT devices and the long-rumoured Apple Car (via 9to5Mac).
In his note to investors, Kuo wrote Apple is “optimistic about the trend of satellite communications” and the iPhone scheduled to arrive as soon as next month will be the first to include it.
“If Apple enables the relevant software functions, iPhone 13 users can call and send messages via satellite when not within 4G/5G coverage,” he wrote on Sunday.
Kuo says the support could arrive courtesy of a customised version of the Qualcomm X60 modem. Apple is working on its own mobile modem following its purchase of Intel’s team and the related IP a couple of years back.
The report doesn’t make clear whether iPhone owners would have to pay extra to access any satellite connectivity, or whether it’ll be available as simply as GPS communications is on current smartphones.
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It could also be that the connectivity will only be available in those instances where conventional means aren’t available. Following the report, shares of the LEO satellite provider Globalstar, which operates the hardware Apple could use to power the tech, soared by 40%.
Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 13 at an event next month, with improvements to the cameras and displays also expected. The notch is also expected to be slimmer, thanks to a new Face ID array that can detect users even if they’re wearing masks.