After adding 5G connectivity to the iPhone 12 series last year, it looks like Apple will give the iPhone 13 line yet another way to connect to the internet: low-earth-orbit satellites.
Ming-Chi Kuo has published a new investors note (read by 9to5Mac) suggesting the iPhone 13 will be able to connect to LEO satellites to give you internet access even if you lose cellular connectivity. Functions could include sending text messages, making phone calls, and potentially access to other web-based applications, although it’s unclear if Apple could gain enough access to the satellites to provide as robust a feature as that.
Typically, LEO satellites are used for secure communication, military reasons, spying, and other government-related reasons. For potential iPhone 13 owners, the likely case scenario is LEO satellite utilization for emergency circumstances. If you’re out of range for 5G or 4G, having a backup connection if you need to make a phone call or send a text would obviously come in handy. It would also give the iPhone an edge over the competition as being a safer phone to own.
According to Kuo, the iPhone 13 will use a Qualcomm X60 modem that’s been customized to connect to LEO satellites. Kuo also believes a similar chip could be used in future products that are internet-heavy, such as Apple’s rumored AR headset.
Given how this is the first time we’re hearing about the iPhone 13 including LEO satellite support, we’ll have to take this report with a grain of salt. That being said, we’re just a few weeks away from when we expect the iPhone to debut with its smaller notch, faster A15 processor, 120Hz display, and upgraded cameras. Therefore, stay tuned as we’ll likely hear more on this subject soon.